Runestad resolution opposes deportation of Iraqi nationals

LANSING, Mich. — Sen. Jim Runestad, R-White Lake, introduced a resolution on Wednesday opposing the mass deportation of Iraqi nationals living in Michigan and the United States.

Senate Resolution 31 condemns the arrest of dozens of Michigan Chaldean Iraqis and their subsequent threat of deportation.

“Last year, a group of Iraqi nationals were rounded up for deportation to a country where religious minorities are the targets of a terrible genocide committed by the Islamic State,” said Runestad, R-White Lake. “We must oppose the mass deportation of Iraqi nationals, many of whom we call our neighbors and our friends, to a land where they will meet torture and death.”

In addition to the arrest of dozens of Michigan Chaldean Iraqis, approximately 1,400 Iraqi nationals have been targeted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement nationwide. An estimated 1,000 individuals are now at immediate risk of deportation with many more at risk in future months.

Runestad noted that many Iraqi nationals came to the United States as refugees, fleeing perilous conditions in Iraq. He said forcibly removing these individuals from their homes and communities to send them to unfamiliar surroundings to face the prospect of a terrible death is unacceptable.

“Metro Detroit has the largest concentration of Chaldeans outside of Iraq — a population of business owners, employees and families that is indispensable to the local economy,” Runestad said. “Having lived legally in the U.S. for decades, complementing our society and contributing to the economic and social well-being of this nation, they have known no home except for America. If we send them back to Iraq they will face grievous persecution there not only for their religious beliefs, but for being Americanized as well.”

SR 31 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations for consideration.

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Editor’s note: Video of Runestad speaking on the Senate floor in support of SR 31 will be available at www.SenatorJimRunestad.com/video.