The body of a man who died after ICE deported him to Iraq – despite the fact he’d never been there before – has been returned to the US for burial.
41-year-old Jimmy Aldaoud was an Iraqi national but he was born in Greece before spending most of his life in the US. Greece reportedly does not confer birth right citizenship on individuals who are born there, so Aldaoud retained the citizenship of his father, an Iraqi refugee.
US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported Aldaoud in June as part of the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown.
According to a statement from Michigan Congressman Andy Levin, Aldaoud spoke no Arabic, had no family in Iraq and was deported without money or a change of clothes, though ICE officials said he’d been ‘supplied with a full complement of medicine to ensure continuity of care’ when he was deported, CNN report.
In early August, the 41-year-old’s body was found in a Baghdad apartment he shared with another Iraqi-American deportee. His attorney, Edward Bajoka, said Aldaoud died because he was not able to obtain insulin to treat his diabetes.
Aldaoud described his time in Iraq in a Facebook video taken a couple of weeks after he was deported, which was shared on Facebook by his attorney:
For anyone following this story…here is a video of Jimmy taken in Baghdad about two weeks after he was deported. Rest In Peace Jimmy…
Posted by Edward A. Bajoka on Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Following his death, Mr Aldaoud’s body has been allowed to return to the US. Levin’s statement explained his remains were flown from Iraq to Detroit on Friday (August 30).
Speaking of the 41-year-old’s death, the Congressman said:
Jimmy’s death was an avoidable, unnecessary and predictable tragedy.
My only hope is that Jimmy’s family feels some sense of relief now that his body can be buried in his home country, next to his mother. Unfortunately, I believe we can expect to learn of more stories like Jimmy’s if deportations of vulnerable Iraqi nationals continue.
For Jimmy, and for those facing life-threatening circumstances in Iraq, and for those who may soon, I will do all that is in my power to stop another death from happening.
The remains of #JimmyAldaoud are currently in transit to the United States and are expected to arrive in Detroit tomorrow.
I hope this will bring Jimmy's family some relief as they continue to grieve his loss.
Read the full press release here: https://t.co/CPLpulnJay
— Rep. Andy Levin (@RepAndyLevin) August 29, 2019
Levin’s office coordinated with the deceased man’s family, US and Iraqi officials and funeral homes in both countries to arrange the transportation, while the trip was paid for by the Chaldean Community Foundation, an advocacy organisation for Iraqi Christians living in the US.
According to CNN, Aldaoud and his family came to the US lawfully as refugees in 1979 when he was six months old. His parents and three siblings became US citizens, though he never did.
Aldaoud’s three sisters described their brother as ‘a sweet person with a good heart’.
He loved our mum, and we are comforted knowing that he will be laid to rest next to her. We hope Jimmy’s story opens people’s eyes and hearts to understanding that we should not be deporting people to their death overseas.
Mr Aldaoud is expected to be laid to rest at a private funeral later this week.
According to CBS, Acting USCIS Director Ken Cuccinelli, the Trump administration’s top official at US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), said in July immigration authorities were ready to identify, detain and eventually deport approximately one million undocumented immigrants with pending removal orders.
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Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.