A diabetic man from Detroit died Tuesday after being recently deported to Iraq, a country he had never lived in before, the American Civil Liberties Union said.
Jimmy Aldaoud’s death was likely caused by his inability to access insulin, sources close to his family told Politico, which first reported the story.
The 41-year-old man also suffered from paranoid schizophrenia and other mental health issues, which played a role in the legal problems he faced leading up to his deportation, immigration attorney Edward Bajoka, who described himself as a friend of Aldaoud’s family, told The Washington Post.
Bajoka said Aldaoud had served 17 months in prison for home invasion after he broke into someone’s garage and stole power tools. He was also separately convicted of disorderly conduct and larceny of a motor vehicle, the ACLU told HuffPost.
These criminal convictions made him eligible for deportation because he isn’t a U.S. citizen.
“Jimmy’s death has devastated his family and us,” Miriam Aukerman, an attorney with the ACLU of Michigan, said in a statement. “We knew he would not survive if deported. What we don’t know is how many more people ICE will send to their deaths.”
Aldaoud, who did not speak Arabic, was reportedly born in Greece after his family fled Iraq. They moved to the U.S. when he was still a baby and settled in the Detroit metro area of Michigan, Bajoka said.
Though Aldaoud was born in Greece, the country does not grant birthright citizenship unlike the U.S., so he was an Iraqi national, the Post pointed out.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement deported Aldaoud to Iraq in June as the Trump administration continued to ramp up its immigration enforcement crackdown.
“Rest In Peace Jimmy,” Bajoka wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday. “Your blood is on the hands of ICE and this administration.”
ICE said in a statement to HuffPost that Aldaoud “entered the United States lawfully in 1979, before violating the terms of his status due to several criminal convictions,” including the aforementioned charges mentioned as well as domestic violence and assault.
In an undated video posted to Facebook on Tuesday, Aldaoud describes his situation while appearing to sit on a street curb in Baghdad. He says he begged federal agents to let him stay in the U.S. and that he was struggling to survive due to the language barrier and his health conditions.
“I’ve been sleeping in the street,” he says of his time in Iraq. “I’m diabetic. I get insulin shots. I was throwing up ... sleeping in the streets, trying to find something to eat. You know, I got nothing over here.”
A spokeswoman for the ACLU told HuffPost that Aldaoud died in part because he did not have access to quality health care in Iraq even though he was able to periodically receive insulin. He required insulin twice per day, she said.
ICE said Aldaoud was provided with “a full complement of medicine” upon his deportation on June 2.
According to ICE’s statement:
He was ordered removed from the United States to Iraq on Nov. 8, 2005. He was later granted a motion to reopen his immigration case but was again ordered removed to Iraq on May 14, 2018. Al-Daoud waived his right to appeal that decision.
Al-Daoud was released from ICE custody on Dec. 18, 2018, pursuant to a Nov. 20, 2018, federal court decision, which ordered the release of Iraqi nationals who had been detained for removal. Al-Daoud immediately absconded from ICE’s non-custodial supervision program by cutting his GPS tether on the day of his release.
Al-Daoud remained an absconder until he was arrested by local law enforcement for larceny from a motor vehicle in April 2019.
The Trump administration has sought to deport hundreds of Iraqis who have lived in the U.S. for a long time, according to the ACLU. The removal orders impact Iraqi members of the Chaldean Catholic community, of which there is a large population in the Detroit metro area that included Aldaoud.
The ACLU and Chaldean Catholic community members say it’s too dangerous for them to be returned to Iraq, where they could be apprehended or killed by the so-called Islamic State. Chaldeans have faced violent persecution since the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.
“There’s a tremendous amount of anxiety in the community,” Martin Manna of the Chaldean Community Foundation told Politico. “Iraq’s not a safe place for many of the people who are being sent back.”
This story has been updated to include ICE’s comments.