An Iraqi national who grew up in the US has died in Baghdad after being deported as part of Donald Trump’s crackdown on illegal immigration, even though he had never been to the Middle Eastern country.
Jimmy Aldaoud, 41, held Iraqi citizenship through his father, but was born in a refugee camp in Greece and his family travelled to the US legally as refugees when he was six months old in 1979.
He was living in Detroit, Michigan, at the time he was deported in June and had no family or any other contacts in Iraq, nor did he speak the language.
Mr Aldaoud died in the Iraqi capital on Tuesday of complications stemming from his diabetes, having been unable to access the insulin he needed, immigration lawyer and family friend Edward Bajoka told NBC News.
His congressman, Democrat Andy Levin, told the network: “Jimmy died tragically of a diabetic crisis.
“His death could have and should have been prevented, as his deportation was essentially a death sentence.”
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have insisted Mr Aldaoud was given “a full complement of medicine to ensure continuity of care” upon his deportation – and that an “exhaustive judicial review” of his case had determined he had “no legal basis to remain in the US”.
Mr Aldaoud – who struggled to hold down a job because of mental health issues – did have a criminal record and was arrested in 2012 for breaking into a house in Ferndale, Michigan, to steal power tools.
But Mr Levin said that was no justification for deporting him.
He added: “For many reasons, it was clear that deporting Jimmy to a country where he had never been, had no identification, had no family, had no knowledge of geography or customs, did not speak the language and ultimately, had no access to medical care, would put his life in extreme danger.”
Since news of his death came to light, a video has emerged on the Facebook page of a humanitarian activist in Iraq of a dishevelled-looking Mr Aldaoud on the streets of Baghdad.
In the clip, he says: “I was deported two and a half weeks ago. I begged them, I said, ‘Please I’ve never seen that country, I’ve never been there.’ However they forced me and I’m here now.
“And I don’t understand the language, anything. I’ve been sleeping in the street. I’m diabetic. I take insulin shots. I’ve been throwing up, throwing up, sleeping in the streets, trying to find something to eat.
“I got nothing over here as you can see.”
The case now forms part of a class-action lawsuit being filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is bidding to prevent people being deported from the US to Iraq.
Miriam Aukerman, an ACLU lawyer, said: “Jimmy’s death has devastated his family and us. We knew he would not survive if deported. What we don’t know is how many more people ICE will send to their deaths.”
The body of Mr Aldaoud remains in Iraq, with efforts under way to have it sent back to the US for burial.
Mr Levin said authorities in the country had so far been reluctant to release the body without “extensive documentation” from his family in the US.