Metro Detroit Chaldean Community Reacts to Dozens of Arrests, Possible Deportations

Jake Neher/WDET

Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce (left), with Stephen Henderson (right)

Members of Metro Detroit’s Chaldean community say dozens of Iraqi Christians have been arrested by immigration enforcement agents.

Most of the Chaldeans arrested have unclear status living in America and have criminal records. They could face deportation, and community leaders say that could be a  “death sentence.”

What will happen to these people? Does this immigration sweep have anything to do with President Trump’s tough stance on immigration?

Detroit Today host Stephen Henderson talks with Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Chamber of Commerce about the crisis in one of our key communities in Metro Detroit.

There’s chaos because [the] U.S. really is mainly the only country that they’ve known,” says Manna.

We’re a country of laws, we should always follow the laws. But there’s also laws against deporting people to a country where knowingly they will be harmed or will be persecuted … There’s rules against cruel and unusual punishment.”

Henderson also speaks with Shoki “Steve” Konja. His brother, Najah Konja, was recently detained.  Najah legally came to the U.S. in 1977. He served 23 years in prison for drug conspiracy and was released with perfect conduct. Since then, he has run 76 Wild Bill’s Tobacco locations with 400 employees.

The law itself is cruel,” says Shoki Konja.

Once you have one crime on your record and you establish a felony, you lose your status… My brother is one of many, ninety percent of the people they picked up over this weekend, first time offenses… He has a court order to be released… Actually, they’re breaking the law by holding him. Where [are] the principals of this country?”

To hear the full conversation, click the audio player above.

Image credit: U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)

About the Author

Detroit Today

Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.

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