Jimmy Aldaoud in a video taken after he was deported to Iraq in early June. (Photo: Social Media)ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A 41-year-old Iraqi national with serious mental health issues, who knew no Arabic,
and who had never been to Iraq was found dead in Baghdad, two months after US immigration officials deported him. Jimmy Aldaoud was born in Greece while his parents were in the process of being granted asylum in the United States. He arrived in the US when he was only six months old and grew up in Detroit, Michigan. A short video posted of him briefly telling the story of his deportation and arrival in Iraq is being circulated on social media by many who express outrage at the fact that he became a target of the Trump administration’s aggressive deportation policies. “I’m diabetic. I get insulin shots. I was throwing up,” he says in the video. “Sleeping in the streets, trying to find something to eat. You know, I got nothing over here.” He had been sick in recent weeks because he did not have access to insulin he needed to take for his diabetes and was not able to obtain regular food. He is thought to have died as a result but this has not been confirmed. Aldaoud had a history of paranoid schizophrenia and received his deportation order as a result of a criminal conviction. In the summer of 2017, US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rounded up hundreds of Iraqis it planned to deport, largely in Michigan. Some had past criminal convictions, some only had visa issues, but the average final deportation orders were more than a decade old. ICE announced then that as many as 1,400 Iraqis were authorized to be deported back to Iraq, many of whom, like Aldaoud, came to the US as young children and have limited Arabic language skills. In mid-2018, a judge censured ICE after the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) presented evidence that immigration agents had been threatening Iraqi detainees at a Michigan jail and coercing them into signing paperwork stating that they agreed to be deported. He also found that ICE officials had misled the court by misrepresenting the Iraqi government’s willingness to receive forced deportations. When ICE agents sent him to Iraq, inexplicably and in seemingly blatant disregard for his safety and well-being, they sent him to the Najaf airport, largely used by Shia Muslims making pilgrimages to holy sites and those traveling to Iraq’s southern provinces. Much of the surrounding territory is under significant control of Iran-backed, anti-American Shia militias of the Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), far from areas populated by Christians. Airport officials told people attempting to intervene for Aldaoud that they were baffled as to why US officials would have sent him there. Edward Bajoka, an immigration attorney who is close to Aldaoud’s family wrote on social media, “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.” Politico quoted a statement from US Representative Andy Levin (D-Mich.) as saying, “Jimmy Aldaoud … should have never been sent to Iraq… My Republican colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the executive branch to cease deportation of such vulnerable people. Now, someone has died.” Levin introduced a bill to Congress in May that recognizes multiple dangers faced by many Iraqi nationals if they are forcefully repatriated. If passed, the Deferred Removal for Iraqi Nationals Including Minorities Act of 2019, which has some bipartisan support, would put a 2-year hold on their deportations.