Immigrant rights advocates say diabetic man died after being deported to Iraq

Immigrant rights advocates say diabetic man died after being deported to Iraq
© Getty

A 41-year-old diabetic man who grew up in Detroit died Tuesday after being deported to Iraq, according to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), a Michigan congressman and people close to his family.

Jimmy Aldaoud spent most of his life in the U.S. but was sent to Iraq in a larger effort from the Trump administration to deport more than 1,000 Iraqis.

His death was first reported by Politico.

ADVERTISEMENT

Edward Bajoka, an immigration attorney who described himself to Politico as close to Aldaoud’s family, wrote on Facebook that his death appeared to be linked to an inability to obtain insulin in Baghdad to treat his diabetes.

The ACLU of Michigan told The Hill that Aldaoud, who also suffered from mental health issues, died in part from not having access to quality healthcare. 

“Jimmy’s death has devastated his family and us,” said Miriam Aukerman, ACLU of Michigan senior staff attorney. “We knew he would not survive if deported. What we don’t know is how many more people ICE will send to their deaths.”

Another family friend told Politico that Aldaoud was born in Greece and came to the U.S. as a young child. He had never been to Iraq and did not know the language, Bajoka wrote on Facebook.

“Rest In Peace Jimmy,” Bajoka wrote. “Your blood is on the hands of ICE and this administration.”

“I don’t understand the language,” Aldaoud said in an undated video shared on Facebook on Wednesday night. “I’m sleeping in the street. I’m diabetic. I take insulin shots. I’ve been throwing up, throwing up, sleeping in the street, trying to find something to eat. I’ve got nothing over here.”

Aldaoud was one of many Chaldeans, members of an eastern branch of the Roman Catholic Church, in the Detroit metro area who have been deported during the administration.

ICE officials in Detroit told The Hill that Daoud lost his legal status due to “several criminal convictions.”

He was initially ordered to leave the U.S. in 2005, was granted a motion to re-open his case, and then ordered to be sent to Iraq again in May of 2018, officials said.

Officials listed twenty convictions accumulated by Daoud between 1998 and 2017, including assault, battery, breaking and entering and missing court dates.

Aldaoud was released from ICE custody in December 2018 after a court decision the previous month that ordered the release of Iraqi nationals who had been detained for removal, officials said.

“Al-Daoud immediately absconded from ICE’s non-custodial supervision program by cutting his GPS tether on the day of his release. Al-Daoud remained an absconder until he was arrested by local law enforcement for larceny from a motor vehicle in April 2019,” ICE officials said in an emailed statement.

“At his June 2, removal, he was supplied with a full complement of medicine to ensure continuity of care,” officials added in a statement.

Rep. Andy LevinAndrew (Andy) LevinThe Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House The USMCA is an opportunity to keep our promises to working Americans Michigan city declines to renew contract with ICE to hold detainees MORE (D-Mich.) said Aldaoud’s death could and should have been prevented. 

“Jimmy Aldaoud, a Chaldean resident of Oakland County, should have never been sent to Iraq,” Levin said in an emailed statement shared with The Hill. 

“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 ultimately, had no access to medical care, would put his life in extreme danger.”

Levin introduced a bipartisan bill in May that would provide two years of relief from deportation for Iraqi nationals with order of deportation. It would allow each Iraqi national to have their case heard individually in immigration court. 

"My Republican colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the executive branch to cease deportation of such vulnerable people. Now, someone has died."

The attorney and family friend told The Washington Post that Aldaoud's run-ins with the law were primarily due to his mental illness, resulting in criminal convictions that ultimately made him eligible to be deported. 

Neither Immigration and Customs Enforcement nor the White House immediately responded to requests for comment on Aldaoud’s case.

— Rebecca Klar contributed

Updated at 2:28 p.m.