ERBIL, Kurdistan Region (Kurdistan24) – Authorities in the US on Monday confirmed the arrests of Iraqi immigrants ordered to be deported is part of a deal the administration struck with the Iraqi government.
The US government said Iraq agreed to accept US deportees “as part of a deal to remove [the country] from President Donald Trump’s travel ban,” Reuters reported.
“As a result of recent negotiations between the US and Iraq, Iraq has recently agreed to accept a number of Iraqi nationals subject to orders of removal,” said Gillian Christensen, a spokeswoman for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).
Dozens of Iraqi Chaldean Catholics in Detroit, Michigan, and Iraqi Kurds in Nashville, Tennessee, were rounded up by Homeland Security’s ICE officials over the weekend.
Authorities claim they targeted those who had criminal convictions for violations ranging from homicide to drug charges and had been ordered removed by an immigration judge.
The actions came as part of the Trump administration’s push to increase immigration enforcement and make countries, which have resisted in the past, take back nationals ordered deported from the US.
Immigration rights groups say federal authorities are ignoring the risks of deportation for some of those who might have previously faced persecution in Iraq. They also highlighted the fact some have already served their sentences.
“Some of the immigrants will be deported to Baghdad, which will be challenging for them as they do not have relatives there and some others cannot speak Arabic,” the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Representation in Washington said on Sunday.
The Trump administration’s move angered the Kurdish community in the US, which held demonstrations over the weekend to protest the decision.
The moves come after the US government dropped Iraq from a list of countries targeted by a revised version of Trump’s temporary travel ban issued in March.
However, a US appeals court upheld a decision blocking the revised travel ban on Monday, raising questions regarding the nature of the deal between the Iraqi government and Trump administration.
There are approximately 1,400 Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal currently in America, according to US officials.
Some of the weekend arrests took place in Michigan’s Macomb County, which Trump won by 53.6 percent in the 2016 Presidential race, backed by many in the Iraqi Christian community.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany