On Wednesday, a lawyer and family friend reported 41-year-old Jimmy Aldaoud died after being deported to Iraq in June, a country he wasn’t born in and had never visited. Aldaoud, who lived in the United States since he was six months old, had diabetes. The criminal record that led to his deportation was reportedly related to his schizophrenia diagnosis.
According to lawyer Edward A. Bajoka, who other media outlets identified as a close family friend, Aldaoud was born in Greece and then legally immigrated to the United States at six months old. He lived in Detroit among a community of Chaldean Catholics, a minority religious group persecuted in Iraq, according to Politico. Though he is an Iraqi national, Aldaoud had never set foot in Iraq prior to being deported.
Aldaoud was convicted of several crimes, including disorderly conduct and home invasion, that led to a violation of his immigration agreement. According to a Facebook post by Bajoka, Aldaoud had diabetes and schizophrenia. Bajoka tied his mental illness diagnosis to his criminal history. Without adequate treatment, people with schizophrenia often end up in the criminal justice system while actively experiencing symptoms. Approximately 2 million people with mental illness land in jail instead of treatment every year.
“He was a paranoid schizophrenic,” Bajoka wrote. “His mental health was the primary reason for his legal issues that led to his deportation.”
Jimmy was found dead today in Iraq. The likely cause of death was not being able to get his insulin. He is a diabetic….
Aldaoud was initially ordered to be deported in 2005 but was allowed to reopen his case. In 2018, he was again given a deportation order, but, according to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), after he was released from detention in late 2018, he cut his GPS tracker to avoid being deported. He was pulled over in April and deported to Iraq in June despite not being born there, never visiting, not knowing the language and not having any connections in the country.
Bajoka shared a video of Aldaoud taken in Iraq about two weeks after he was deported, in which Aldaoud said he was sleeping on the streets and struggling to manage his diabetes.
“I’m sleeping on the street. I don’t understand the language,” Aldaoud said in the video. “I’m diabetic, I take insulin shots. I’ve been throwing up, throwing up, sleeping in the streets, trying to find something to eat.”
On Wednesday, Bajoka reported Aldaoud had died. He also indicated Aldaoud’s cause of death was most likely related to not having access to insulin.
“Jimmy was found dead today in Iraq,” Bajoka wrote. “The likely cause of death was not being able to get his insulin. He is a diabetic. 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.”
Though insulin will likely be ineffective on its own without access to nutritious food and it’s much more difficult to follow treatment guidelines as a homeless person, ICE said Aldaoud was given medication upon deportation to continue his care. A statement provided to The Mighty via email from ICE officials in Detroit about his case said:
Al-Daoud entered the United States lawfully in 1979, before violating the terms of his status due to several criminal convictions. Al-Daoud’s immigration case underwent an exhaustive judicial review before the courts ultimately affirmed he had no legal basis to remain in the U.S. He was ordered removed from the United States to Iraq on Nov. 8, 2005. He was later granted a motion to reopen his immigration case but was again ordered removed to Iraq on May 14, 2018. Al-Daoud waived his right to appeal that decision. …
Al-Daoud was released from ICE custody on Dec. 18, 2018, pursuant to a Nov. 20, 2018, federal court decision, which ordered the release of Iraqi nationals who had been detained for removal. Al-Daoud immediately absconded from ICE’s non-custodial supervision program by cutting his GPS tether on the day of his release.
Al-Daoud remained an absconder until he was arrested by local law enforcement for larceny from a motor vehicle in April 2019. At his June 2, removal, he was supplied with a full complement of medicine to ensure continuity of care.
“Jimmy’s death has devastated his family and us,” Miriam Aukerman, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said in a statement, according to HuffPost. “We knew he would not survive if deported. What we don’t know is how many more people ICE will send to their deaths.”
“Jimmy Aldaoud … should have never been sent to Iraq,” Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) said in a written statement, according to Politico. “My Republican colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the executive branch to cease deportation of such vulnerable people. Now, someone has died.”
The Mighty reached out to Edward A. Bajoka for comment and has yet to hear back.