Trump is Being Sued for Rounding Up Christians to be Sent to Almost Certain Death

Trump is Being Sued for Rounding Up Christians to be Sent to Almost Certain Death

The Trump administration is trying to deport Chaldean Christians back to Iraq. This is a stark reversal from a president who promised to help Middle Eastern Christians, and for some of these people, it’s a likely death sentence.

Trump is stabbing these Christians in the back

Fortunately, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has stepped in and is suing the administration. The lawsuit centers around a rash of detentions in the Detroit, Michigan area. During the past week-and-a-half, roughly 100 Iraqi Chaldean Christian were rounded up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, Think Progress reports. Family members and advocates have launched protests, but ICE officials say that the people who have been arrested have outstanding removal orders and criminal offenses. Demonstrators contend that most served their time years ago. Deporting them back to Iraq will subject them to persecution from local authorities or certain death at the hands of murderous organizations like ISIS.

In an interview with Think Progress, Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Community Foundation, said that forcing Chaldeans to return to Iraq is “the equivalent to a death sentence.”

“The government is claiming wrongly — that a federal court lacks the power to stop what may effectively amount to a death sentence for many of these individuals,” he said.

So the ACLU is helping those arrested — Chaldeans and non-Christians alike — to file a class action suit against the Trump administration, using the argument that deporting them violates a federal law prohibiting sending people to countries where they face persecution or torture.

The initial hearing on the case was scheduled for Wednesday, and lawyers plan to ask the court to issue an order to prohibit deporting these people until authorities have a better chance to examine the severity of their plight.

“Understandably the government is not telling the court that these Iraqi nationals will be fine if sent back,” Lee Gelernt, the ACLU lawyer arguing the case wrote in an email to Think Progress. “Nor could the government do so given the obvious danger these individuals will face. Instead, the government is claiming — wrongly — that a federal court lacks the power to stop what may amount to a death sentence for many of these individuals.”

Also being challenged in this case: Whether ICE had the right to detain those who were arrested to begin with, and whether it was proper to move the detainees all the way to a center in Ohio that’s far away from their lawyers.

An ICE representative from a local office refused to comment on ongoing litigation, but told Think Progress that the government’s response to the lawsuit argues that the federal court doesn’t have the jurisdiction to hear the case due to a technicality.

Related: Amid Human Rights Questions, Senate Rubber Stamps Trump’s Half Billion Dollar Saudi Arms Deal (VIDEO)

In the run-up to his campaign, Trump spoke to CBN and inaccurately asserted that Syrian Christians are “not allowed” into the United States. And he’s frequently said he wants to protect Middle Eastern Christians.

“If you’re from Syria and you’re a Christian, you cannot come into this country. And they’re the ones being persecuted,” Trump said, adding he thought it was “unbelievable” and that “[we] have to do something about it.”

Later, he said:

“If I run and I win, I will be the greatest representative of the Christians that they’ve had in a long time.”

He maintained this stance throughout his campaign, all the while attempting to work out the details of his much-mentioned Muslim ban. So there are lines of racism underscoring this as well.

Fortunately, many right-wing Christian leaders see the errors of Trump’s way and have voiced their opposition to this.  Even the Rev. Franklin Graham, who’s nuttier than a walnut tree, has called on the president to help the Chaldeans.

On his Facebook page, he had this to say:

And Vox reports that last month, Vice President Mike Pence dropped this gem at the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians:

“Protecting and promoting religious freedom is a foreign policy priority of the Trump administration,” (Sarcasm alert: unless you’re Muslim, of course). But it is especially important to protect Christians, he added. “The suffering of Christians in the Middle East has stirred Americans to action, and it brings me here today.”

How hypocritical is this? Trump says he wants to protect Iraqi Christians — by sending them back to face certain death? Many of these people have been in the U.S. for decades, and long ago served their time for whatever minor crimes were committed, Think Progress notes. This is cruel and is the exact opposite of what Trump said on the campaign trail.

If his administration is trying to help these people, they sure have a sadistic way of doing it.

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Megan was born and raised in Ventura, California. She has since lived in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Pacific Northwest, Arizona, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Mexico, and Costa Rica. While she has always been a liberal, her travels have informed her politics. She has worked for more than 25 years as a professional journalist writing about crime, the police, local politics, feature stories, environmental issues and a variety of other topics. She now writes for Reverb Press.

Megan supports Black Lives Matter and fights against racism, sexism, the corporatocracy, climate change deniers and others who continue to destroy the planet.