Advance Notice: Briefs

Levin, Moolenaar ask Pompeo to stop Iraqi national deportations

By: - June 24, 2019 9:08 am

Protestors rally against President Donald Trump’s recent executive order halting refugee admissions for 120 days and banning entry to the U.S. for citizens of seven predominantly-Muslim nations, at Reagan National Airport, February 1, 2017 in Arlington, Virginia. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

U.S. Reps. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) and John Moolenaar (R-Midland) are again teaming up over Iraqi nationals living in the United States, this time appealing to U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. Their letter comes as deportations have begun, which have included Chaldean Christians and other religious and ethnic minorities.

In May, the pair introduced a bill, the Deferred Removal for Iraqi Nationals Including Minorities Act, halting for two years the detainment and deportation of Iraqi nationals who have orders for removal.

Levin, Moolenaar unveil bill stopping deportation of Iraqi nationals

“The deportations have started, and people are being sent to face extreme danger,” said Levin, who represents Macomb and Oakland counties in the 9th District. “While we work to advance our bill in the House that would grant relief to the Iraqi nationals facing deportation, we need support from the Executive Branch. Secretary Pompeo has personally acknowledged the threats faced by religious minorities in Iraq, which is why he would be a key partner in the effort to protect these Iraqi nationals from persecution.

U.S. Reps. Andy Levin and John Moolenaar

Levin said he has received multiple reports of deportations from his district, “including one case of a man with mental illness who has no family in Iraq who was sent there with no money or clothes.” The 9th District has the largest Iraqi-born community of any congressional district in the country, according to U.S. Census data.

“There’s no doubt Iraqi Christians in the United States will face persecution and possible death if they are sent back to Iraq,” said Moolenaar, who represents the 4th Congressional District in mid-Michigan. “Just last month, the State Department ordered many of its employees out of Iraq because of the instability in that country. We believe it is paramount to support religious freedom and the right of people to practice their faith without fear of persecution.”

Moolenaar and Levin spearheaded a letter in April signed by more than 20 legislators to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) advocating for a delay in these deportations.

Michigan lawmakers lead bipartisan group protesting Iraqi deportations

After news broke that the heads of DHS and ICE were stepping down, Levin, Moolenaar, U.S. Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-Holly) and U.S. Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.) sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking for his intervention.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 22-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive.