Current Issue
September, 2019
Volume 45, Number 3
13 June 2017
CNEWA staff

Chaldean-American Lavrena Kenawa cries during a 12 June rally outside the Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield, Michigan. Her uncle was among dozens of Chaldean Christians who were arrested by federal immigration officials over the weekend in the Detroit metropolitan area, which members of the local church community said left them sad and frustrated. (photo: CNS/Rebecca Cook, Reuters)

It happened over the weekend. Details, from Catholic News Agency:

Dozens of Chaldean Christians were arrested by federal immigration officials over the weekend in the Detroit metropolitan area, leaving the local Church community with sadness and frustration.

“Yesterday was a very strange and painful day for our community in America,” Bishop Francis Kalabat of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle of Detroit stated Monday in a Facebook post.

“With the many Chaldeans that were awakened by Immigration Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and consequently picked up for deportation, there is a lot of confusion and anger,” he added.

The Rev. Anthony Kathawa of St. Thomas Chaldean Church in West Bloomfield, Mich., told CNA 12 June that “As a community, we’re all suffering seeing the loss of our loved ones.”

The Detroit Free Press noted:

Martin Manna, an Iraqi-American Christian advocate who is president of the Chaldean Community Foundation based in Sterling Heights, said he’s getting information from family members of those arrested, many of who live in Macomb and Oakland counties.

“Most of the arrests of the 40 or so were all done today,” Manna said, adding people on a final order of removal were targeted, most of whom have a criminal record.

Sending them back to Iraq, he said, “is like a death sentence.”

A spokesman for ICE declined to comment on any specifics.

“ICE regularly conducts targeted enforcement operations during which additional resources and personnel are dedicated to apprehending removable aliens,” spokesman Khaalid Walls said in a statement Sunday evening.

Catholic News Service added some context from Bishop Kalabat:

A bill passed by the U.S. House 6 June “to protect Christians,” Bishop Kalabat said, “goes against this very thing.” He was referring to the bipartisan Iraq and Syria Genocide Emergency Relief and Accountability Act that would provide humanitarian assistance to Christian and other religious minorities suffering genocide at the hands of Islamic State militants.

The bishop acknowledged it “will take a lot of effort” to work on behalf of those who have been taken into custody, “but acting in disrespectful ways in front of the federal building (will) only bring harm and not good.”

“We understand the pain that many members of our community are going through but emotional outbursts will not bring change,” he said, and urged them to get official statements from the eparchy about efforts being made on behalf of the detainees. He added: “Let’s pray for God’s blessings to rain down on us.”

Read more here, here and here.

Tags: Iraq Catholic Chaldeans