By Max Rivlin-Nadler Photo by Roland Lizarondo Above: A store in El Cajon, home to the second largest population of Chaldean Iraqis in the United States, on Aug. 16, 2019.
Earlier this month, Jimmy Aldaoud, a Chaldean man from Michigan, died shortly after being deported to Iraq. His family says it was because he lacked access to insulin there. He was one of the first Chaldeans, a group of Iraqi Christians, to be deported to Iraq following a 2017 agreement between Iraq and the United States. For decades, the U.S. had deemed Iraq too dangerous to accept deportations.El Cajon is the center of the second-largest population of Chaldeans in the United States, behind Detroit. Many of them have yet to become citizens, leaving them vulnerable to possible deportation as a result of low-level criminal convictions or other reasons. Twenty-five year old Marvin Mikha was born in the U.S. to Chaldean parents who left Iraq in the 1980s. He says the reason a lot of Chaldeans haven’t become citizens because they don’t know how to get help to navigate the difficult process. “It’s understanding how to apply and when to apply,” Mikha said. “There aren’t people knocking on their doors telling them to apply for citizenship. So I think that’s the real barrier here.” Video: San Diego’s Chaldean Community Reeling After Deported Chaldean Man’s Death In Iraq