Death by deportation
If you have Type 1 diabetes and cannot get insulin, you will eventually develop a condition called ketoacidosis. Your cells are unable to access the sugar in your blood, and so your body reverts to digesting its muscle and fat in a backup metabolism process — essentially, you start to starve because you can no longer process normal food. This in turn leads to a steady buildup of toxic acidic byproducts in the blood, which makes you deathly ill. You become severely dehydrated as your body attempts to dilute its sugar-saturated blood with all available water, and you gasp for breath as it tries to lower your blood's acidity by reducing the blood concentration of carbon dioxide (which is slightly acidic). Without treatment, you eventually develop cerebral edema, fall into a coma, and perish.
It's a gruesome, agonizing way to die. And it's almost certainly what Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials inflicted on a Detroit man named Jimmy Aldaoud by deporting him to Iraq, despite the fact that he was not born there, never lived there, had no money, spoke no Arabic, had both severe mental illness and diabetes, and indeed had been living in the U.S. since he was six months old. After living on the street for two and a half months, where he said he had been throwing up for lack of insulin, he died.
But that's just one example this week of the reign of racist terror being carried out by a Trump administration that places high priority on inflicting gratuitous cruelty on any minority person that falls into its clutches.
In Mississippi, ICE goons also conducted some of the largest workplace raids in the agency's history Wednesday, rounding up 680 chicken plant workers whose only crime was suspicion of being an unauthorized immigrant (and possibly brought down as a result of a $3.75 million sexual harassment settlement recently paid by the plant's owner). Buzzfeed's Hamead Aleaziz has a heartbreaking account of workers calling their families in terror as they realized the secret police were upon them:
On Wednesday morning, Dianne received an alarming call. It was her fiancé, dialing her from the chicken processing plant in a nearby central Mississippi town where he worked long shifts deboning meat. "ICE is here!" he yelled. In the background, Dianne could hear other laborers terrified. The panic was palpable. One worker called out in Spanish, "Ayúdame! [Help me!]" … His voice trembling, he told Dianne that she needed to make a promise before he got off the line: "Take care of my kids." [Buzzfeed News]
Afterwards, dozens of children were left without parents to care for them. "Government please show some heart," a crying 11-year-old Magdalena Gomez Gregorio told Alex Love, a local TV news reporter. "Let my parent be free." (The parents mentioned by Aleaziz were later released, at least for the moment.)
One U.S. citizen was knocked to the ground and tased during one of the raids. Though that person was not arrested, other citizens have been. As the L.A. Times details, since 2012 ICE has released at least 1,480 people after investigating their citizenship, including at least two who were held even after presenting valid U.S. passports, and one New York man who was imprisoned for three years because an agent mistook his father for a non-citizen. Recently an 18-year-old Dallas-born man was illegally detained for over three weeks in conditions so atrocious he lost 26 pounds. Many citizens (it is hard to tell how many) have even been deported.
But it is the plight of poor Jimmy Aldaoud that most sticks in my mind. The interview of him published after his death bears a marked resemblance to a hostage video — where someone pleads for mercy from a psychotic, brutal captor who will not deliver it. "They wouldn't listen to me, they wouldn't let me call my family, nothing. They just said you're going to Iraq," he says. "I begged them, I said please, I've never seen that country, I've never been there, however they forced me. 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 …"
This video is of Jimmy taken in Baghdad two weeks after his deportation. I’m sharing with permission from Jimmy’s lawyers. Jimmy has been in the US since he was 6mo old—he was born in a refugee camp in Greece to Iraqi Christian parents. RIP#JimmyAldaoud https://t.co/1182x6GRAY pic.twitter.com/KF8RUOtKiH
— Mari Manoogian (@MariManoogian) August 8, 2019
Let us also not forget the reason Iraq is in such dire condition and unable to provide services to refugees like Aldaoud in the first place is because the United States waged a war of aggression on it for no reason and obliterated its social infrastructure. (Incidentally, he was also a member of an ancient Catholic community which has been ruthlessly persecuted in Iraq since the U.S. invasion.)
Now, Aldaoud did apparently have a record of petty crime, which is the excuse ICE used to deport him. He suffered from schizophrenia, which probably accounts for his homelessness as well as the theft — remarkably, he got a conviction for stealing three cordless drills thrown out after studying law books by himself. Regardless, it is absolutely beyond question that what he deserved in a moral sense was some mental health treatment and assistance obtaining legal status.
Many reporters have called Aldaoud "Iraqi." But he was by any realistic definition an American. Listen to his marked Detroit accent, especially how he says "Eye-raq" just like George W. Bush. He was just as helpless as I (or any other uncultured American schlub) would have been in his shoes. Only that trivial six months of infancy and a lot of bureaucratic nonsense separated his status from mine. Any immigration system with the slightest scrap of decency would have found some way to allow Aldaoud to stay in his real homeland. But the moral abominations who work at Trump's secret deportation police sent him to his death instead.