Over the last century, Assyrians have experienced waves of persecution and genocide followed by worldwide migration, with a large population of these Iraqi Christians settling in Michigan. People in this religious and socially conservative group have made a home for themselves among Metro Detroit’s diverse immigrant community and often align themselves with Republican Party values and candidates. While some have escaped the hardships from their homelands, finding comfort and stability in the United States, many Assyrians in Detroit recently faced another threat: deportation.

Wisam Naoum, a Chaldean Catholic Assyrian, is one of the main organizers working to protect the hundreds of Assyrians in Michigan facing deportation. The 29-year-old has been a key voice for Detroit’s Assyrians detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in the summer of 2017, beginning June 11.

Naoum began receiving phone calls and texts early on that June day, while he was at a family barbecue, and it wasn’t long before Naoum took action. With a group of fellow organizers that included lawyers and educators, Naoum met and began collecting information from the detainees’ family members.

The group worked tirelessly to gather all of the information they could, both from the detainees and from organizations like the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Naoum was tasked with convincing the Assyrian community, a very conservative group whose members mostly voted for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election, to work with and trust the ACLU, a historically liberal organization that already has taken over 100 legal actions against the Trump administration. In addition to finding legal aid for the Assyrian detainees, the group has secured therapists and trauma counselors for the families of detainees.

Read the full article about Detroit's Iraqi Christians facing deportation by Maia Asshaq at GOOD Magazine.