DETROIT (WJBK) – Dozens of metro Detroit Chaldeans were detained and ordered deported in June.
Now after several appearances in federal court and stays on the deportations, the latest ruling – gives more than 100 detained Chaldeans from metro Detroit 90 days to plead their case before the immigration courts – or in some cases – seek a pardon from Gov. Rick Snyder.
“If they get a pardon it’s like the ‘golden ticket’ because then their case has changed and they have a path to citizenship,” said Martin Manna, Chaldean Community Foundation.
Sixty-four detainees have filled out pardon applications that are now in the hands of the Michigan Parole Board who will review them and make a recommendation to the governor but his spokesperson says the governor will have the final say.
“We’re hopeful the governor will act on this in the near term,” Manna said. “Certainly we believe that if the governor does pardon members of the community that hopefully the federal government will look upon that as favorable.”
Manna, with the Chaldean Community Foundation, says those detained are Christians who have lived in the U.S. legally for decades, but most committed crimes years ago and served their time.
Only those with state crimes like check fraud or marijuana possession could be considered for pardons – and even a pardon is no guarantee a detainee gets to stay.
“At the end of the day this is going to take a political solution,” he said. “The federal government, the administration – Secretary John Kelly, or President Donald Trump both have the ability to stop these deportations.”
Manna says if they don’t – people will die.
“It’s very dangerous for people to be sent back to Iraq,” he said. “They don’t know the Iraqi government, they don’t have family there, this is the only country that they’ve really known. This is a life or death situation, so they’re going to fight until the end.”