WARREN (WWJ/AP) – A Metro Detroit man facing deportation to Iraq is the only blood marrow donor match for his niece, who has a rare auto immune disease.
“What am I going to do if he’s not here to provide it for me?”
Mirvat Bahoura, of Warren, has a rare form of Leukemia. She says her 55-year-old uncle, Ghassan Kassab is her only available donor.
“He’s the only match,” Bahoura told WWJ’s Chrystal Knight. “I did the bone marrow transplant in 2016. Six months later my body rejected it and I had to do another one in February 2017.”
Bahoura said her uncle, who’s been in the U.S. since he was 6-years-old, was rounded up with more than 100 other Chaldean and Iraqi nationals by Immigration and Customs Enforcement on June 11 during sweeps in Sterling Heights, West Bloomfield and Dearborn. He’s been detained ever since and is in danger of being deported because he has past drunk driving and drug convictions. If Kassab is sent back to Iraq, Bahoura says he will be killed because of his Christian faith.
“It’s not about only my uncle because he’s a donor. There’s people out there that left with their wives being pregnant. This one guy, he was getting married in a week,” she said. “That country has a genocide and please reconsider sending these detainees back. They’re good people, they’ve done their time.”
Instead of kicking the detainees out of America, Bahoura said the government should give each person a chance to explain why they should stay.
“Why America the great is doing this to, I would say, non-Americans? It’s not peaceful. We don’t have a country to go back to,” she said. “Send them home to their families and let each individual have their day in court to represent themselves clearly.”
On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith granted a two-week temporary stay to prevent the deportations while he determines whether his court is the proper place to consider their fears of physical harm if they’re kicked out of the country.
The U.S. government said 1,400 Iraqis are under deportation orders nationwide, though most are not in custody. Some have been under orders for years because they committed crimes in the U.S. But legal action over deportations suddenly is heating up because Iraq has agreed to accept them.
The Justice Department insists a U.S. District Court judge doesn’t have jurisdiction in the immigration matter. Goldsmith is not certain so the 14-day freeze will give him more time to decide.
The American Civil Liberties Union said a suspension is necessary so Iraqi nationals can go to immigration court and argue that their lives would be in jeopardy if returned to their native country. Without some intervention, the ACLU contends that people could be deported before their case is called.
“They need enough time to file those petitions to reopen. It’s the government that is hurrying these people toward deportation,” Margo Schlanger, attorney for the Iraqi immigrants, told the judge.
© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.