President Donald Trump vowed last week to grant “extensions” to stay in the United States to some Iraqi Christians that his administration had earlier sought to deport despite concerns they could face persecution upon return to the Middle East.
He made the promise to grant extensions to a community of Chaldean Catholic immigrants during his speech last Thursday at an auto parts manufacturing plant in Warren, Michigan.
Hundreds of Iraqi Christian immigrants live in the Detroit area. In the last few years, they have lived in fear of deportation as the administration focused on enforcing outstanding deportation orders.
“We’re going to make sure that we do everything we can to keep people who have been good to this country out of harm’s way,” Trump said. “When I get back [to Washington], we’re going to give those who need it an extension to stay in our country.”
Many of the Iraqi Christian immigrants in Detroit had lived in the U.S. for decades. With the community leaning conservative, many of them were pulling for Trump in the 2016 election.
The administration had sought to deport as many as 1,400 Iraqis nationwide as part of a reported deal with the Iraqi government in 2017. The Iraqi government previously did not accept Iraqis returned by the U.S. until the deal was reached to keep Iraq off the administration’s travel ban list.
The administration’s plans to deport hundreds of Iraqi Christians back to a land where Christians were recently victims of genocide by the Islamic State drew concerns from evangelical leaders affiliated with the Evangelical Immigration Table and other human rights activists.
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith