The Trump administration continues to botch its immigration policy, and now the bungling could very likely result in the deaths of Iraqi Christians who have lived in this country legally, made mistakes and paid for them, and are suddenly facing deportation.
Dozens of Iraqi immigrants were rounded up in Metro Detroit over the past week and are being held while the process of deporting them to Iraq proceeds. The raids were triggered by an agreement reached between Iraq and the United States in which Iraq has agreed to begin accepting deportees after seven years of refusing to do so.
Immigration officials say those targeted in the raids committed crimes, some as serious as rape and murder, and thus have forfeited their right to remain in the U.S.
The instinct to remove guests who have abused our hospitality is understandable. Immigrants who are here on visas and green cards have an obligation not to become a burden on or a threat to their hosts.
But with the Iraqis who were herded into Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vans over the past week, the story is far more complex.
While some of those who were picked up have committed serious crimes and should be vetted for their threat risk, most, according to the narratives emerging from their families, were convicted of drug crimes and other non-violent offenses.
Nearly all have served their sentences and returned to productive lives.
Fairness demanded that they be expelled at the time of their conviction, and not after paying what they were told was their debt to society and demonstratively redeeming themselves from their poor choices.
The federal government is imposing what amounts to a death sentence. The Iraqis arrested are overwhelmingly Christian Chaldeans. They will be sent back to a country that has tolerated the genocide of Christians, destroyed their homes and denied them the right to practice their religion.
And since a large number of them came to the United States with their families as children, they know no one in Iraq, and many don’t even speak the language. They will be sent to a strange land, and a very hostile one.
American policy should never be cruel. This round-up and pending deportation can only be described as inhumane.
The administration can’t pretend it doesn’t know what will happen to the Chaldeans when they land in Iraq. Trump himself has spoken out against the persecution of Christians there. And yet he is handing these Iraqi Christians a death sentence for committing crimes that don’t merit such an extreme punishment.
Americans want their borders secured and respected. They have little patience for those who come here illegally and break our laws and drain our resources.
But they also are compassionate, believe in redemption, and have little stomach for contributing victims to the slaughter of Christians by Islamic extremists.
Trump would lose little support by re-examining this latest immigration crackdown, and at the very least excusing those Iraqis who have paid for their crime, changed their lives and are now contributing to their communities.