(photo credit: JPOST STAFF)
DETROIT- US immigration authorities have arrested and moved to deport 199 Iraqi immigrants, mostly from the Detroit area, in the last three weeks after Iraq agreed to accept deportees as part of a deal removing it from President Donald Trump's travel ban, officials said on Wednesday.
In the Detroit area, 114 Iraqi nationals were arrested over the weekend, and 85 throughout the rest of the country over the past several weeks, Gillian Christensen, a US Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman, said in a statement.
The actions came as part of the Trump administration's push to increase immigration enforcement and make countries, which have resisted in the past, take back nationals ordered deported from the United States.
The crackdown on Iraqi immigrants followed the US government's decision to drop Iraq from a list of Muslim-majority nations targeted by a revised version of Trump's temporary travel ban issued in March.
The overwhelming majority of those arrested had criminal convictions for crimes including murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, weapons violations and other offenses, Christensen said.
As of April 17, 2017, there were 1,444 Iraqi nationals with final orders for removal, she said. Since the March 12 agreement with Iraq regarding deportees, eight Iraqi nationals have been removed to Iraq.
Dozens of Iraqi Chaldean Catholics in Detroit were among those targeted in the immigration sweeps, some of whom fear they will be killed if deported to their home country, immigration attorneys and family members said.