Jimmy Aldaoud is a 41-year-old Detroit man born in Greece who died two weeks after he was deported from the United States to Iraq, a country where he had never lived.
Aldaoud died in Baghdad on Tuesday, according to immigration attorney Edward Bajoka.
Aldaoud was an Iraqi national but was born in Greece and came to the United States as a young child, Politico reported, citing a family friend.
Aldaoud had never lived in Iraq and did not speak Arabic, Bajoka wrote on Facebook.
“The likely cause of death was not being able to get his insulin. He is a diabetic,” Bajoka wrote, adding that Aldaoud was also a “paranoid schizophrenic.”
According to Politico, Aldaoud had a criminal conviction for disorderly conduct and home invasion, for which he served 17 months in prison before his conviction was thrown out.
“His mental health was the primary reason for his legal status, which led to his deporation,” Bajoka wrote.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Jimmy Aldaoud Was Deported to Iraq Despite Never Living There
Aldaoud, 41, had spent most of his life in Detroit when he was swept up in the Trump administration’s intensified deportations, Politico reported.
Aldaoud, whose family were Iraqi Christians fleeing persecution in their country, was born in a refugee camp in Greece, according to Michigan state Rep. Mary Manoogian. He came to the United States when he was 6 months old.
Aldaoud was deported when the Trump administration targeted more than 1,000 Iraqis for deportation, including the Chaldean Catholics living in the Detroit area. Aldaoud, a Chaldean Catholic, struggled with mental health and homelessness, according to the report.
2. Aldaoud Was Deported After Serving Jail Time for Home Invasion
Aldaoud was previously convicted for disorderly conduct and served 17 months in prison for home invasion, Politico reported.
The Detroit News reported in 2015 that Aldaoud had his conviction thrown out after acting as his own lawyer.
An appeals court ruled that the judge did not explain the risks of acting as his own attorney to Aldaoud, the report said. Before his trial, Aldaoud said he spent 16 months “day and night” studying law books.
Aldaoud admitted to stealing power tools from a stranger’s garage but believed it was a misdemeanor, not a felony.
According to CBS Detroit, Aldaoud, whom police described as homeless, was stopped by police after stealing three cordless drills.
3. Aldaoud Said in Video That ICE Agents ‘Refused to Listen to Me’
In a video posted by Rep. Manoogian, Aldaoud can be seen sitting on a porch in Baghdad. Manoogian wrote that the video was recorded two weeks after his deportation.
“Immigration agents pulled me over and said I’m going to Iraq,” he said in the video. “I said, ‘I’ve never been there. I’ve been in this country my whole life, since pretty much birth.’ … They refused to listen to me.”
Aldaoud said that he had been homeless and vomiting because he was unable to access insulin and could not speak the language in Iraq. He said he had been kicked while sleeping on the street.
He said he tried to explain to officials that he had never been to Iraq but they sent him there anyway.
“I begged them,” he said. “I said, ‘Please, I’ve never seen that country, I’ve never been there.’ However, they forced me.”
4. Aldaoud Likely Died From Not Being Able to Get Insulin, Lawyer Says
Edward Bajoka, an immigration attorney close to Aldaoud’s family, wrote on Facebook that Aldaoud was found dead in Baghdad on Tuesday.
“The likely cause of death was not being able to get his insulin. He is a diabetic,” Bajoka wrote. “He was forcefully deported to Iraq a couple of months ago. He was born in Greece and had never been to Iraq. He knew no one there. He did not speak Arabic.”
“He was a member of the Chaldean minority group,” he continued. “He was a paranoid schizophrenic. His mental health was the primary reason for his legal issues that led to his deportation.”
“Rest In Peace Jimmy,” he added. “Your blood is on the hands of ICE and this administration.”
5. Aldaoud Was a Chaldean Catholic, Whose Members Have Been Targeted for Deportation
Aldaoud was a Chaldean Catholic, one of thousands living in Michigan. Chaldeans are an offshoot of the Roman Catholic church who trace their roots to ancient Mesopotamia in modern-day Iraq, Politico reported. The group is at high risk of being killed or tortured in Iraq by terrorist groups.
“Jimmy Aldaoud … should have never been sent to Iraq,” Michigan Rep. Andy Levin said in a statement to Politico. “My Republican colleagues and I have repeatedly called on the executive branch to cease deportation of such vulnerable people. Now, someone has died.”
Politico reported that advocates have expressed concern that many Chaldeans have been targeted for deportation despite spending years or decades in the United States.
ACLU attorney Miriam Ackerman, who is representing Chaldean immigrants in a class-action lawsuit, said that the deportations are putting these people at ris
“Jimmy’s death has devastated his family and us,” she told Politico. “We knew he would not survive if deported. What we don’t know is how many more people ICE will send to their deaths.”
The Chaldean Community Foundation’s Martin Manna told the outlet that about 160,000 Chaldeans live in Michigan.
“There’s a tremendous amount of anxiety in the community,” he said. “Iraq’s not a safe place for many of the people who are being sent back.”
Levin and Republican Rep. John Moolenaar have introduced a bipartisan bill that would grant two years of relief from deportation to Iraqis with final removal orders, though the bill has not made much headway in Congress.