More than half of the 27 Iraqi Christians the Obama administration has been holding for the past six months at an ICE detention center in Otay Mesa, California, are set to be deported in coming weeks, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced earlier this week.
An immigration judge ordered the deportation of 15 of the Christians, ICE spokeswoman Lauren Mack said.
Another five of the Iraqis have been charged with immigration fraud and remain under U.S. Marshal custody at the Otay prison. Seven already have been returned to Europe, where they were living before attempting to enter the United States illegally, said Mack.
Fifteen remain in ICE custody pending their deportation in the following weeks. Five of those are considered “pending cases,” Mack said. Generally, once deportees are given a final removal order by a judge, ICE officials begin making travel arrangements.
If the European nations receiving these Christians decide to send them back to Iraq they will face almost certain death.
The 27 Iraqi Christians — also known as Chaldeans — have been detained in Otay for about six months as their immigration cases proceeded, activists and family members told the San Diego Union-Tribune.
The Chaldeans were detained by immigration authorities after they attempted to cross the U.S.-Mexico border through the San Ysidro Port of Entry without documentation several months ago.
Iraq emptied of its ancient Christian community
Iraq is home to one of the most ancient Christian communities, evangelized by the Apostle Thomas not long after the time of Jesus. It was home to 1.5 million Christians under Saddam Hussein but after the U.S. invaded in 2003, al-Qaida started bombing churches and kidnapping prominent Christian leaders. The attacks became more fierce after al-Qaida in Iraq morphed into ISIS and the country has been virtually emptied of its Christian population since then.
Estimates now range from 200,000 to 300,000 Christians remaining in the country, mostly in Baghdad and in Kurdish-controlled areas to the northeast.
Many of Iraq’s historic churches, some dating back to the second and third century after Christ, have been destroyed or converted to mosques. Others sit empty.
Nowhere to hide
Thousands of Chaldeans have fled Iraq, escaping fierce persecution at the hands of terrorists fighting for the Islamic State, also known as ISIS. Many of their men who refuse to convert to Islam have been beheaded or otherwise killed while their wives and daughters have been sold into sex slavery. Tens of thousands have been forced out of their homes and live in hiding, afraid to even show up at United Nations’ refugee camps, where they often find themselves the victims of further abuse by Muslims.
Lord George Carey, Britain’s former archbishop of Canterbury, confirmed in published reports last week what WND had previously reported, that persecuted Christians in Syria and Iraq are fearful of the refugee camps. Rather than seek refuge there, they are hiding in churches and in the homes of other Christians.
The U.S. has large Chaldean Catholic communities in Detroit and San Diego.
Chaldean families have held regular demonstrations in support of the 27 detainees, the majority of whom have family who are U.S. citizens, but on Monday they were told by government officials they’d better not comment on the issue.
Ordered to stay silent
Lundon Attisha, spokesman for San Diego’s Neighborhood Market Association, told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he and other Chaldean leaders were advised by the attorneys representing the detainees not to comment on the deportation of the Chaldeans.
At the same time the Obama administration deporting Christians, it has over the years allowed in hundreds of Muslim migrants from Africa and the Middle East who crossed the Southern border the same way the Chaldeans did.
Obama targets Christian immigration attorney
Obama’s Justice Department has also gone after the nation’s most successful Chaldean Christian immigration attorney, Robert Dekelaita, 52, of Glenview, Illinois.
DeKelaita has helped thousands of Christians escape the jihadist-inspired violence of Iraq, Egypt and Syria going back to 2001. For his efforts, he was indicted last year on charges of immigration fraud. DeKelaita maintains his innocence and is still awaiting trial.
In an interview with WND last month, DeKelaita said Chaldean-Americans are some of the hardest working of all immigrants. Many in Detroit are successful businessmen who employ hundreds in the convenience store and hospitality industries.
“These are proud Americans who love this country, just very solid families involved in their communities and churches,” he said.
But for at least 12 of them, they will be deported back into a hostile environment that seeks to present them with an age-old jihadist ultimatum: Convert to Islam, pay the Islamic head-tax for a dubious “protection” or die.