A leader in the Chaldean Christian community has warned that should President Donald Trump deport dozens of Michigan Christians to Iraq, they will undoubtedly be "mutilated, forced to convert to Islam, or massacred by ISIS."
Mark Arabo, president of The Minority Humanitarian Foundation, told The Gospel Herald that the dozens of Iraqi Christians seized in Detroit by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Sunday are "crying and absolutely distraught" over the reality that they may soon be deported to Iraq.
"It's very, very tragic," he said. "They're like sheep being sent to the slaughter. There is no place for Christians in Iraq. If they are sent to Iraq, they will be mutilated, they will be forced to convert to Islam, or be massacred by ISIS. They will be vulnerable to the most heinous crimes you could think of."
The Minority Humanitarian Foundation, a group formed three years ago for victims of ISIS, is planning a federal lawsuit to stop any deportations. Arabo, who spoke with GH while traveling to Youngstown, Ohio to meet with those detained, noted that last year, his foundation was able to convince then-U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to declare that ISIS was committing genocide against Christians and other ancient minority groups in the Middle East.
"I do not understand how anyone could send a Christian to a genocide zone," he said. "Donald Trump has promised to combat ISIS, but what he's doing is emboldening them by sending them Christians to kill. He's giving ISIS exactly what they want."
Arabo added, "It's surprising because the Chaldean Christians in Michigan did support President Trump mainly because they wanted to keep Americans safe. Sadly, it's the ones that supported him that ended up being detained."
ICE explained in a statement that Iraq has agreed to "accept a number of Iraqi nationals subject to orders of removal," and noted that the people it is arresting have all been convicted of crimes.
"As part of ICE's efforts to process the backlog of these individuals, the agency recently arrested a number of Iraqi nationals, all of whom had criminal convictions for crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses," the agency stated.
"Each of these individuals received full and fair immigration proceedings, after which a federal immigration judge found them ineligible for any form of relief under U.S. law and ordered them removed."
However, Arabo pointed out that many of those seized have lived in America for decades and have been exonerated of previous crimes.
"A lot of these people have been in America for 30, 40 years," he said. "Many of them are married to Americans. One family called me yesterday; her husband, before they were married, had a drug offense when he was 18 and went to jail for a year. Now, he's 47 years old, completely clean, no issues. But because he never got a green card, he's being deported. Five presidents could have deported him, but didn't. This one, however, is."
Arabo noted that many of the 30-40 Christians detained were "swept up from church, from the beach, from breakfast, without any notice."
"These aren't criminals," he said. "They're good, upstanding citizens who have since been rehabilitated. The government should do what they want to do with them here in America, give them due process. But sending them back to Iraq is a death sentence."
As his organization works to fight the threat of deportation, Arabo is urging Christians nationwide to raise awareness, contact elected officials, and most importantly - pray.
"The biggest thing we always ask is for them to pray for us, and then contact our foundation minorityhf.org," he said. "Contact the White House; President Trump has the power to reverse this order with the swipe of a pen."
He added, "I hope that the Christian community stands up with us now. We cannot send these Christians to their death."