Many Chaldeans in metro Detroit are in fear as Immigration and Customs Enforcement may begin a new round of arrests.
month, dozens of local Chaldeans were arrested and held at the
Immigration Deportation Center with the threat of being deported. Many
of them have been in the United States for several years, or even
decades, but face deportation due to a criminal past.
of the local detainees have some sort of criminal history, but their
families argue they were convicted of non-violent crimes and many were
committed decades ago. Their families also worry they'll face religious
persecution if they're sent to Iraq.
"ISIS is waiting for us to land. So, I don't know what more we need
to do or say [for] the public to wake up and say, this is not a joke,"
says Lahib Kanona. He'll be reporting to his annual check-in with ICE on
Monday, and he fears the worst. He worries he won't be coming home to
his wife and kids, who are all American citizens.
Lahib came to
Michigan when he was nine months old. He and his family were Chaldean
refugees, escaping Iraq. He hasn't left the country since and now
worries he'll be sent to a country he doesn't know.
Lahib says he
shot at a vehicle in a road rage incident when he was 17. No one was
injured, and he served 10 years in prison, losing his green card in the
"I was just trying to protect myself; I wasn't trying to
hurt nobody. The situation went awry," he says. "I've contributed to
this country all my life. Yes, I've committed crimes against this
country but I've served my time."
Since then, Lahib worked in the hospitality industry for seven years and he's now in the cell phone business.
"I've just been contributing and paying taxes; there's records of everything," he says.
in metro Detroit are prepping clients like Lahib for another round of
ICE arrests they believe could happen soon, adding to the hundreds of
others awaiting their fate in a jail in Youngstown, Ohio, although
currently protected by a stay recently enacted by a Detroit judge.
The government says 1,400 Iraqis are under deportation orders nationwide. Most are not in custody.
The deportation has been blocked by the federal judge until at least July 24.
Meanwhile, Lahib can't afford a lawyer and can only hope for the best for his Monday check-in at the ICE offices in Detroit.