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Opinion 3 News India Times August 16, 2019 ADeath In IraqBelies Trump'sReligious FreedomAgenda I raq was a land so foreign to him that he even said its name with the typical Americanmispronunciation - "Eye-rak." He had never visited since his birth to Iraqi Christian parents in a Greek refugee camp. He knew no one there and spoke no Arabic. Yet it was on the streets of Bagh- dad where Jimmy Aldaoud died. The Detroit man had been deported from the United States some months prior; confused, diabetic and allegedly mentally unstable, he lived homeless and desperate until his family received word of his death this week. They be- lieve he died because of his inability to obtain insulin. An undated video circulated on social media by his lawyers on Wednesday showed Aldaoud, 41, gaunt and terrified in the aftermath of his deportation. "I don't understand the language," Aldaoud said. "I'm sleeping in the street. I'mdiabetic. I take insulin shots. I've been throwing up, throwing up, sleeping in the street, try- ing to find something to eat. I've got nothing over here." According to his advocates, Aldaoud was a victimof a heartless Trump administration and its emboldened Immi- gration and Customs Enforcement agency. Though he was not a U.S. citizen, he had spent almost all his life in the United States. As Politico first reported, his deportation came on the back of a series of criminal convictions, which render noncitizens susceptible to removal from the coun- try. His family attributed his criminal record in part to his mental health. Rights groups argued that he should have never been sent to a country where he would be unsafe. "Jimmy's death has devastated his family and us," MiriamAukerman, an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, said in a statement. "We knew he would not survive if deported.What we don't know is howmany more people ICE will send to their deaths." "This is a total failure of the whole immigration system," Edward Bajoka, a Detroit immigration attorney and friend of Aldaoud's family, toldTheWashington Post. "This guy should have been protected somewhere along the way." The tragic irony of Aldaoud's story is that he came from a community the Trump administration claims to cham- pion. On the campaign trail, President DonaldTrump con- demned his predecessors as not doing enough to protect the Middle East's religious minorities from the scourges of jihadists and neglectful Arab governments. Along withVice President Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Trump has repeatedly spoken of the plight of the Aldaouds' community, the Iraqi Chaldeans, and other religious sects such as theYazidis who lived for centuries in what are now Syria and Iraq. Their long existence in these lands was first put under threat by the havoc unleashed by the U.S. invasion of Iraq. Things were made all the worse a decade later by the ram- pages of the Islamic State - a top Iraqi Christian cleric in 2014 likened what befell the country's Christian sects to the medieval massacres that accompanied the Mongol inva- sions. Now, Iraq's Christian population is barely one-sev- enth of what it was before 2003, nomatter the administration's efforts to focus aid funding to rebuild these communities shattered and scattered by war. More broadly, the Trump administration hailed the cause of "religious freedom" with an eye toward the presi- dent's evangelical Christian base. It heldministerial-level international summits on the plight of persecuted religious minorities and is even trying to reframe the concept of human rights along more-religious lines. Last month, Trump hosted a diverse group of leaders of endangered re- ligious communities from around the world in the Oval Of- fice - an event nowmost remembered for the president's cringeworthy exchange with aYazidi activist and victimof rape and torture. But critics argue this amounts to little more than virtue- signaling when set against Trump's anti-refugee agenda. The number of Middle Eastern Christians admitted as refugees to the United States in 2018 dropped 98 percent from 2017. That's part of a wider, systematic gutting of U.S. refugee admissions. Trump adviser StephenMiller, an anti- immigration zealot, has reportedly remarked he would be "happy if not a single refugee foot ever again touched American soil." In summer 2017, Miller and otherWhite House officials used the threat of a travel ban on all Iraqi citizens to compel the government in Baghdad to take back Iraqi nationals listed for deportation. ICE rounded up hundreds of Iraqi nationals with criminal records, including Aldaoud, who was sent to a detention center inYoungstown, Ohio. Though a federal judge stayed proceedings on the grounds that many of these Iraqis would face "persecution, death or torture," the ruling was overturned by an appeals court in December, paving the way for Aldaoud's summary depor- tation. "For decades, Iraq had refused to accept deportations from the United States - but that all changed in June 2017," explainedmy colleagueWashington Post TimElfrink. "As part of a deal to escape President Trump's travel ban against a host of majority-Muslimnations, Reuters re- ported, Iraq agreed to accept deportees. More than 100 Iraqis with criminal records were arrested that month by ICE, mostly in Detroit." A lawyer representing other Iraqi refugees now under the threat of deportation told the Detroit News that at least seven have cut their GPS-tracking "tethers" in the past month in a bid to avoid being sent to back to a country where they may be kidnapped or killed. "It's unfathomable that we'd send people whose relatives and countrymen were just two or three years ago victims of this genocide back to this place where they're still at risk," Bajoka, the at- torney, toldThe Post. In 2016, Trump's rhetoric appealed to conservative vot- ers of Iraqi Chaldean origin inMichigan, whose Chaldean voting population of about 60,000 to 80,000 people cast their ballots in large numbers for him. A similar turnout is unlikely in 2020. "Everybody supported him - we all wanted Trump because we thought Trump would do good for us," SteveYaldo, a U.S.-born Chaldean, told the Christian Sci- ence Monitor in 2017. "And now it's like he turned his back on us." -T HE W ASHINGTON P OST By Ishaan Tharoor ust as her stunning performance in the first debate boosted Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., in the polls, her second debate performance served to land her right back where she started. FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver observes, "Harris was in the single digits in all five post-debate polls and was off by nearly 3 percentage points on average as compared with the pre-debate polls." He also notes, "If you look at the Quinnipiac poll, for in- stance, there's no single group of Democrats - say, wealthy or young or black Democrats - among whomHarris is polling at any higher than 10 percent, whereas [Joe] Biden, [Elizabeth]Warren and [Bernie] Sanders all have fairly dis- tinctive bases." There are a few possible reasons that Harris fared poorly in the second debate.We don't knowwhich reasons, if any, contributed to her downturn, but it's worth reviewing how things might have gone astray. First, voters' tolerance for her attacking the rather beloved former vice president seems to have run out. Going back to the well one toomany times on busing and bring- ing every question back to a confrontation with Biden turned out to be misguided. Harris is great at "prosecuting the case" - but against President DonaldTrump, not Biden. Second, she continued to struggle in explaining her health-care plan. She got kudos when she rolled out a plan that omitted some of the downsides of Medicare-for-all (e.g., taking away private insurance), but she seemed to be defending her plan as if it were a Medicare-for-all plan in the vein of Sanders andWarren. Third, she did not handle the attacks on her own record, even the barrage fromRep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, effec- tively. She cannot merely deny the claims are true or fall back on her declaration that she was a progressive prosecu- tor. Finally, while she normally exudes warmth and joy, she at times appeared exasperated or dismissive of questions. For a candidate with a magnetic personality, she sure seemed less than thrilled to be there. The good news for Harris and her supporters is that all of this is fixable, and she remains in the top four. Regarding the debate missteps, she surely can redirect her attacks to Trump in the next debate, find two or three bullet points to describe her health-care plan (and tout that it doesn't take private insurance away) and come up with a succinct de- fense to the most common accusations against her tenure as district attorney. (She might consider the tactic of Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana: Take responsibility for errors or blind spots.) Moreover, outside of the debates, Harris remains one of the most engaging and fun (yes, it's important to have fun) candidates. Her impassioned attacks onTrump for inciting white nationalism and a punchy list of gun safety proposals were quite effective this week. The key to the future debates and the race as a whole might be the ability to project toughness and gravitas rather than any specific policy position. Voters want to know that you have ideas, but they don't necessarily fly- speck them. If you sound as though you understand them and have confidence in them, voters will conclude that you're a serious candidate. (It's horrible to admit that sub- stance counts for so little in the debates, but until the for- mat changes, these won't be substantive policy contests.) Harris doesn't need to knock down Biden, at least not yet. She needs to get past Sanders, who is already slipping, andWarren, who has been on a roll. Putting herself to the right of them (but the left of Biden) makes her the Biden al- ternative without the "socialist" problem; being the empa- thetic and passionate candidate makes it easier for voters to connect with her emotionally than with the more re- servedWarren and the downright grumpy Sanders. In short, being the younger, female, nonwhite, center- left alternative to Biden is a good place to be for now, even if she has slipped a few notches in the polls. (Staying in high single digits months before voting starts can work to her benefit by lowering expectations.) By contrast, being an im- itator of the far-left candidates and a Biden antagonist turns out to be a bad look for her. The best news of all: By September, and certainly by Feb- ruary when voting starts, no one is going to remember any- one's second debate performance. -T HE W ASHINGTON P OST Harris TookAHit. But She's Still InTheFight Among Democratic Presidential Candidates J Jennifer Rubin Writes reported opinion for The Washington Post