ICE agents pounded on our door at 9:30 a.m. on a Sunday morning as we were getting ready to go to Mass. The agents said that they were doing a house check. They then said that they just needed my dad to come in and be interviewed by the Iraqi consulate. They promised that he would be back the next day. The agents even told my mom to expect a phone call the next day when she could come pick him up. My dad and I looked at each other, and we knew they were lying to us. Thankfully, he got to hug and kiss each of us goodbye, and I gave him a rosary I had near me.
I later found out that on that same morning, Sunday, June 11, immigration officials detained at least 100 other Chaldeans (Iraqi Christians) in the Detroit area with the intention of deporting them to Iraq. Many people were going about their normal Sunday morning routine: getting breakfast, sleeping in or getting ready to go to Sunday Mass, just as my father was.
My people are facing genocide by ISIS in Iraq because of our Christian faith.
My people are facing genocide by ISIS in Iraq because of our Christian faith. There are approximately 300,000 Chaldeans living in the United States, many of whom had grandparents and parents that came here years ago seeking a safe haven from the ongoing violence in the Middle East.
My dad came to the United States legally when he was only 4 years old. He made a mistake over 30 years ago, when, following a road rage incident, he was found to be in possession of a gun for which he was not registered. He paid his debt to society by going to prison, and he has had no further arrests or convictions since. He repented for his wrongdoing, married my mother, Nahrain, and had four kids. Because of my dad’s hard work as a business owner, our family was, until now, living the American dream. My dad does not know the language in Iraq, and he has a tattoo of a cross on his wrist; sending him back to Iraq is essentially a death sentence.
Before my dad left that Sunday, he asked me to take care of my mom and my three younger siblings: Christopher, Lauren and Lindsey. I am a junior at the University of Michigan and am currently taking my final exams. Trying to balance studying while also being the backbone of our household has been tough. But we are blessed to be a part of an amazing community filled with family and friends who have been nothing but supportive in these dark times.
The American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit on behalf of my father and all the other Chaldeans who were detained in early June. The lawsuit argues that people cannot be sent to a country where they could be the target of genocide. On Wednesday, June 21, at 2 p.m., my family and I will be sitting in the federal courthouse in Detroit. Please pray for the lawyers and politicians as well as the judge who will be hearing our case.
The one thing that has been getting me and my family through this all has been the power of prayer. I know that the rosary my dad has with him right now is the reason he is still in Michigan. I know that going to the grotto at our church at least once a day with my siblings has brought comfort and peace to the situation we are going through. I know God has a plan, and although this has been a painful experience, I trust in God’s will.