One year's time

It’s baffling how much can happen in one year.

One year ago, when I encouraged my father to seek the help of an immigration attorney, I had no idea that exactly one week later he would be one of hundreds caught in raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). But he was.

This is not my first column about the deportation crisis and it probably won’t be the last.

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End the Unjust Detention of Chaldeans

 Congressman John Moolenaar

Congressman John Moolenaar

For more than a year now, members of the Chaldean community in Michigan have been unjustly detained and threatened with deportation to a country where they could face violent persecution and death for their religious beliefs.

This process has upended families and done tremendous harm to a community of patriotic people who have made significant contributions to their adopted homeland.

I have been working with my colleagues in the Michigan congressional delegation and with Martin Manna, the leader of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce and the Chaldean Community Foundation, to resolve this issue.

Martin has been a tireless advocate and the Chaldean community could not ask for a better person to have on its side.

Martin and I have met with officials from the Department of Homeland Security, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the White House, and Congressional leadership.

We have not yet received the outcome we have worked toward but we will not give up.

On April 12, I introduced a bipartisan House resolution with other members of the Michigan delegation, calling for the Administration to end the detention of Chaldeans. It also calls on the Administration to use its executive authority and discretion to “defer deportation for Iraqi Chaldeans living in the United States.”

Ending the detention and threat of deportation would be consistent with federal policy because the federal government also recognizes that Christians are the victims of genocide in Iraq.

In the past few years, we have all seen the news reports documenting the dangerous conditions facing everyday citizens in Iraq. It would be even more difficult for returning Chaldeans, many of whom left the country with their parents as small children. They would have no homes or communities to return to upon arrival and worse yet, they could face the same violent persecution of religious minorities that has caused death and destruction throughout Iraq.

My colleagues and I recognize that the Administration cares deeply about the issue of religious liberty. We want the Administration to show its support for these faithful people of our state by ending the threat of deportation for those who peacefully live out their beliefs in the United States, safe from persecution.

Throughout America’s history, millions of people have come to this country seeking refuge from religious persecution. Freedom of religion is a First Amendment right, and while many of us may take it for granted, it is truly one of the freedoms that makes our country exceptional.

The Chaldean community in Michigan has made contributions to our state and our country. Chaldeans have raised families, started businesses, supported civic organizations and done so much to make a difference.

The Michigan delegation will continue to work with members of Congress from other states who share our belief in the importance of religious freedom. We are not giving up and we will keep fighting for the Chaldean community because no one deserves to be deported to a country where they could face violent persecution for their faith.

Congressman John Moolenaar, a Republican, represents Michigan’s Fourth Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives.


No real winner

Five months ago, when I wrote “The human side of deportation”, I didn’t think I would ever see my father in the flesh again. I was doing everything in my power to bring him home, but I had also mentally prepared myself to deal with a situation in which I could not save my father.

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On a Mission

This month, a group of missionaries will travel to Lebanon to give medical and spiritual aid to displaced Christians who have been forced to leave their homes due to wars and persecution. The team, led by Fr. Fadi Philip, a Chaldean Catholic priest and the pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Warren, Michigan, will visit displaced families throughout the region to give them much needed medical and spiritual support. In addition to Fr. Fadi, the team includes five medical doctors: Ranin Paolus, M.D.; Maha Bishara, D.M.D.; Sara Alsakka, Michael Haddow, D.M.D.; and Rand Touma, M.D. who are part of the MERCI project. 

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Car Wash for the Soul

It’s been such a long winter in Michigan. So today when the high was 68 degrees and the sun finally came out to say hello, I went to the car wash. I was going to a Communal Penance Service at our parish and I had plenty of time ahead of me. As I drove into the car wash and the attendant guided me through the tracks, my mind went back to 16 years ago.

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The Mediterranean Diet

The Mediterranean diet incorporates characteristics traditional to the cooking style and flavorings of countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. It is abundant in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and olives, and features fish, poultry and olive oil over red meat, butter and saturated fats.

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