Jimmy Aldaoud was born in a refugee camp in Greece 41 years ago to Iraqi parents. Six months later, they moved to the U.S. Though he was undocumented, he spent most of his life in Detroit, where this year Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) arrested him, then deported him to Iraq in June. In a video posted to Facebook two weeks after his deportation, Aldaoud said, "I begged them. I said, 'Please, I’ve never seen that country, I’ve never been there.' However, they forced me. I'm here now, and I don't understand the language or anything, I've been sleeping in the street. I'm diabetic, I take insulin shots, I've been throwing up and throwing up, trying to find something to eat. I've got nothing over here as you can see."
He was forcefully deported to Iraq a couple of months ago. He was born in Greece and had never been to Iraq. He knew no one there. He did not speak Arabic. He was a member of the Chaldean minority group. He was a paranoid schizophrenic. His mental health was the primary reason for his legal issues that led to his deportation. Rest In Peace Jimmy. Your blood is on the hands of ICE and this administration.
On Twitter, Democratic congressman Andy Levin of Michigan wrote, "It was clear that deporting Jimmy to a country where he had never been, had no identification, had no family, had no knowledge of geography or customs, did not speak the language and ultimately, had no access to medical care, would put his life in extreme danger." He added, "My Republican colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the executive branch to cease deportation of such vulnerable people. Now, someone has died."
Since Donald Trump took office, he's made deportation a central facet of his presidency, stripping protections from immigrants who came to the country legally and dramatically threatening raids across the country. According to the Detroit News, as more and more Iraqi refugees in the area are being targeted for deportation, many of them have begun cutting off ankle monitors they're legally required to wear. Seven reportedly did so in June alone, and that violation could likely speed up their deportations. After a 2017 raid where ICE detained over 100 Iraqi nationals, some of whom had American children and had lived in the U.S. for decades, the American Civil Liberties Union argued in federal court that many of them faced torture and even death in Iraq for being members of a Christian minority, for helping the U.S. military, or simply for applying for asylum in the U.S.
Iraq, a country still reeling from the destabilizing U.S. military occupation, is issuing these deportees visas that are only valid for 24 hours, according to Michigan Public Radio. After one day, they're once again undocumented, "leaving them paperless and 'stateless' in a country where not having proper identification papers can be lethal."
Many of the Iraqi nationals that ICE is targeting have some kind of legal infraction. Aldaoud, for example, had a criminal record and served 17 months for a home invasion. But many are trying to appeal for emergency stays since, as local immigration lawyer Shanta Driver told Michigan Public Radio, "It’s like a death sentence to be sent back there. And the U.S. government knows it." In response, ICE is reportedly expediting the deportations so they happen before courts can issue those stays.
Note: The headline of this post has been updated for clarity.
Originally Appeared on GQ