Uniformed Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents last week conducted a series of raids around southern Michigan, rounding up at least 114 Iraqi Christians and sending them to detention centers around the Midwest in advance of deportation back to Iraq. Many of the detainees will be deported to Mosul, a city at the center of the Iraqi government's war with ISIS. Newsweek reported that many of them will face "certain death," a fate that many of their compatriots already have met.
Michigan is home to hundreds of thousands of immigrants from Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and elsewhere around the Middle East, many of whom have found livelihoods with auto manufacturers and become active members of the community. Those targeted for arrest and deportation were almost entirely Iraqis who were found to have either overstayed their visas or had minor crimes in the past, as long as decades ago. Indeed, according to CNN, Moayad Barash, an Iraqi whom ICE snatched last week, had been arrested 30 years ago for possession of marijuana. He has never been in trouble again, and he has raised a family in Michigan. His children are American citizens. Barash's case is typical.
Community activists and the American Civil Liberties Union have rallied to the immigrants' side, but the process has only just begun. The ACLU filed a class action petition and a motion for a temporary restraining order in federal court last week, and an ACLU spokesman said that the deportations could not legally begin for at least another week. In the meantime, those arrested are still locked up, away from their families, with few resources to defend themselves.
So where are the evangelicals? A few have expressed concern, but by and large, they're mostly silent. Evangelist Franklin Graham did say last week that he was "disturbed" that Iraqi Christians had been targeted for deportation. But he, like other evangelicals, supports the Trump travel ban and the negotiations with the Iraqi government whereby Trump removed Iraq from the list of banned countries in exchange for taking back undocumented Iraqis in the United States. Graham said that he hoped Trump would "have somebody investigate the cases" of the Iraqis. That's hardly a ringing endorsement.
And the truth of the matter is that there has been a slow-motion genocide against Christians and other religious minorities in the Middle East over the past several decades, particularly in Iraq. Indeed, Congress last year voted unanimously to recognize the killings of Christians in the Middle East as genocide, singling out ISIS's executions of Iraqis specifically.
In the meantime, the hypocrite-in-chief tweeted, "Christians in the Middle East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!" But he's the one who is allowing it to continue by ordering the deportations in the first place.
It's time for evangelicals to take stock of their political positions. Do they want to be on the side of Trump or on the side of human rights and religious freedom? Maybe it's time for them to ask themselves an important question: Who would Jesus deport?
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