September 8, 2017

Iraqi Christians helped Donald Trump win the White House. Now they’re facing deportation

As a candidate and since taking office, President Trump vowed to protect and defend Christians in the Middle East. In between talk of a Muslim ban and building a wall along the Mexico border, Trump assured besieged Christian minorities that his commitment was ironclad.

Now, many Iraqi Christians living in the United States feel the president lied to them.

“We voted for Trump. All the Christian people, the Chaldean people, voted for him, that was the first thing he said, that he was going to help them,” said Sumar Khalasawi, a Chaldean Christian living in Macomb County, Mich. “But he did the opposite.”

Chaldeans are Iraqi Christians, some 200,000 of whom live in Michigan, including tens of thousands in Macomb County. Chaldeans voted in overwhelming numbers for Trump in November, helping him to win Michigan by just over 10,000 votes. And on June 11, immigration agents detained more than 100 of them.

Those detained Iraqi Christians include Khalasawi’s husband, Hadeel, who is awaiting deportation to Iraq. As a youth, Hadeel committed a gun crime and spent 10 years in a U.S. prison.

“Mr. Trump said he would help the Christians, he would help the Chaldean community,” Sumar Khalasawi said. “And he said that this was his No. 1 priority, to help them … he lied to us.”

At Kabob and More, the Khalasawis’ restaurant in Hazel Park, Sumar Khalasawi and her three children spoke with Daniel and Jordan Allott about what Hadeel’s detention means to them and the entire community. “He’s changed his life,” his wife said, calling her husband a stellar father and positive influence in his community.

Michigan’s Chaldean population fears not just family separation, but also that their loved ones will be sent back to a land they don’t know and where the U.S. has declared that a genocide is taking place against Christians and other religious minorities.

“They should have deported them from day one,” Sumar Khalasawi said of the United States, “after they committed their crimes and they did their time. If they didn’t want them in this country, they should have sent them back, not let them go after 20, 30 years, they come and snatch him away from us, and break our hearts.”

“I blame the government. I blame Trump,” Sumar and Hadeel’s daughter, Marcella, said. “He [Hadeel] has a family. All of them have families. And he took away the one thing that built the family, the father.”

Daniel Allott had an opportunity to speak with Hadeel by phone from the detention center in Youngstown, Ohio. Watch as Hadeel makes a desperate plea to President Trump.

This video was originally featured as a part of the Washington Examiner’s series The Race To 2020: The people and places that will define a presidency. You can watch more videos here.

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