Hazel Park man deported to Iraq, dies of diabetic crisis

Man lived in U.S. since he was a toddler, struggled with mental illness

By: Andy Kozlowski | Madison - Park News | Published August 16, 2019

 Jimmy Aldaoud, 41, of Hazel Park, seen here in a video posted to Facebook, had lived in America since he was 6 months old. He was deported recently to Iraq, where he died in early August, unable to secure medicine for his diabetes.

Jimmy Aldaoud, 41, of Hazel Park, seen here in a video posted to Facebook, had lived in America since he was 6 months old. He was deported recently to Iraq, where he died in early August, unable to secure medicine for his diabetes.

Screenshot photo taken from Facebook

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HAZEL PARK — A Hazel Park man died of a diabetic crisis earlier this month after being deported to Iraq, where he didn’t know the local language or how to secure his insulin shots.

Jimmy Aldaoud, 41, had lived in the U.S. since he was only 6 months old. He was born in Greece to Iraqi refugee parents who immigrated to the U.S. through a refugee resettlement program.

Aldaoud had never been to Iraq prior to early June, when he was dropped off at Al Najaf International Airport, about 100 miles south of Baghdad. He had very little money, a limited supply of medicine for his diabetes, and no connections in the country. He didn’t speak Arabic. He was also a persecuted minority as a Chaldean Christian.

During his life, Aldaoud struggled with paranoid schizophrenia, committing various crimes that included disorderly conduct and larceny of a minor vehicle. This led to his deportation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE did not reply to requests for comment by press time.

In a video posted to Facebook, a shaken Aldaoud spoke of his plight.

“Two and a half weeks ago, (ICE) pulled me over and said I’m going to Iraq. And I said I’ve never been there; I’ve been in this country (America) my whole life, which is pretty much since birth — I missed birth by six months,” Aldaoud said. “They wouldn’t listen to me. They wouldn’t let me call my family — nothing. … I begged them. I said, ‘Please, I’ve never seen that country; I’ve never been there in my life.’ But they forced me, and I’m here now.

“I don’t understand the language; I don’t understand anything; I’m sleeping on the street,” Aldaoud continued. “I’m diabetic; I take insulin shots; I’m throwing up, trying to find something to eat. I’ve got nothing here. I was kicked in the back a couple days ago because I was on a guy’s property, sleeping on the ground. I begged him — I said I don’t know this country. Nobody speaks English.”

Now Aldaoud is dead. He was found deceased Aug. 6, two months after he was deported, apparently from a diabetic crisis.

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin, a Democrat representing the 9th District of Michigan, said in a statement that Aldaoud should have never been deported. Levin’s office has worked with officials in Iraq to arrange the return of Aldaoud’s body to the U.S. for a Christian burial.    

“For many reasons, it was clear that deporting Jimmy to a country where he had never been, had no identification, had no family, had no knowledge of geography or customs, did not speak the language and … had no access to medical care would put his life in extreme danger,” Levin said. “His death could have, and should have, been prevented.”

On Aug. 11, Levin and 40 House Democrats wrote to President Donald Trump, asking him to end the practice of detaining and deporting Iraqi nationals living in the U.S.

“… To force a man living with chronic illnesses (such as diabetes and paranoid schizophrenia) into an unknown country, without adequate access to life-sustaining medicine, is nothing short of a death sentence,” the letter reads. “Jimmy’s death was a direct and predictable result of his deportation, and we are horrified that his cruelty was perpetuated on our watch.”

Aldaoud’s deportation followed a decision earlier this year by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals that allowed ICE to begin detaining and deporting Iraqi nationals, including those who came to the U.S. as children.

According to statistics by Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, nearly 1,500 immigrants were arrested by ICE in Michigan over the course of 20 months ending in May 2018. Estimates place the number of undocumented immigrants in Michigan at around 129,000. This puts Michigan’s arrest rate by ICE at 11.6 arrests per 1,000 undocumented immigrants, which is the second highest among all U.S. states with at least 100,000 undocumented immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is litigating a case against the federal government on behalf of those facing deportation.

“We are devastated by Jimmy’s death, as is his family,” said Ann Mullen, communications director for the ACLU of Michigan.

In a statement, Miriam Aukerman, ACLU senior staff attorney, said that Aldaoud’s death underscores the urgency of the situation for the immigrants still at risk of being deported.

“The predictable and inevitable consequence of sending (Aldaoud) to Iraq is that he is dead. We knew the moment he was deported that he would not survive. The only thing we don’t know is how many more people ICE will send to their deaths, and how many more families will be devastated,” Aukerman said. “We call on ICE to immediately halt all Iraqi deportations, and on Congress to pass the pending bipartisan legislation that would prevent others from suffering (Aldaoud’s) fate.”

Called the Deferred Removal for Iraqi Nationals Including Minorities Act, the bill would provide two years of relief from deportation for Iraqi nationals with orders of deportation, allowing them to each have their case heard in immigration court.

Said Aukerman: “If they don’t (pass the legislation), more deaths are certain.”

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