DETROIT – Following the death of Jimmy Aldaoud, an Iraqi national who was deported to Iraq and died of a diabetic crisis as a result of his deportation, Congressman Andy Levin Friday announced that Aldaoud’s remains will be returned to the United States.
Aldaoud, 41, was born in Greece and came to the United States when he was an infant. He was found dead in Baghdad on Tuesday, Edward Bajoka, an immigration attorney in Michigan and a family friend of Aldaoud's, told NBC News. Aldaoud lived in Hazel Park and struggled with mental health issues and diabetes.
Through the facilitation of Congressman Levin’s office, Iraqi and American officials have initiated the process of transferring Aldaoud’s remains to Michigan. The process of transferring the remains is expected to be completed later this month.
“Jimmy’s deportation was a death sentence,” Levin said. “Ensuring the safe return of Jimmy’s body to the United States is the least I could do for Jimmy’s family as they grieve during this tragedy. Now, per Jimmy’s family’s wishes, he can receive a proper Catholic funeral and be buried next to his mother in Michigan, the only home he has ever known. I’m glad that my office could give Jimmy’s family this small sense of solace, but to honor his memory, we still must do everything we can to prevent another death by deportation.”
The news has brought Aldaoud's family relief.
“Our family’s wish would have been for Jimmy to return alive to the only home he ever knew and not in a casket,” said Rita Bolis, sister of Jimmy Aldaoud. “We are comforted that he will be laid to rest next to our mom.”
The Chaldean Community Foundation has agreed to cover the costs associated with repatriating Aldaoud's body.
“We are very thankful for Congressman Levin and his staff’s effort to bring Jimmy’s remains home,” said Martin Manna, President of the Chaldean Community Foundation. “We are hopeful that this will bring some comfort to the family and to the Chaldean community in this very difficult time. We also ask the administration to take immediate action to stop these inhumane deportations.”
Members of the Chaldean community, organizations and elected officials have been fighing to prevent the deportation of Iraqi nationals.
According to U.S. Census data, Michigan’s 9th District, represented by Levin, has the largest Iraqi-born community of any congressional district in the country.