(14 Jul 2017) An Iraqi man who fled to the US during the Gulf War and trained tens of thousands of American soldiers is facing deportation orders that could lead to his death in his homeland, his supporters say.
Kadhim Al-bumohammed, 64, decided to seek refuge Thursday inside a New Mexico church.
He announced through his attorney that he would defy a federal immigration order to appear for a hearing where he was expected to be detained over two misdemeanor domestic-violence convictions in California.
“After consulting with his family, and with other members of the faith community, (Al-bumohammed) has chosen to seek sanctuary with the faith community”, Rebecca Kitson, his lawyer, said a cheering crowd outside Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) offices in Albuquerque.
Immigration officials typically don’t make deportation arrests in churches and other “sensitive areas” such as schools and churches.
An ICE spokeswoman did not immediately return an email from The Associated Press seeking comment.
Al-bumohammed, who arrived as a refugee in the early 1990s, worked as a linguist contractor with all four branches of the US military from 2004 to 2009 in Fort Irwin, California.
Al-bumohammed trained tens of thousands of soldiers in his five years and earned more than 15 medals for his service, Kitson said.
He fled following the first US war with Iraq with Saddam Hussein still in power because he feared persecution for assisting US-led coalition forces.
Supporters say the father of four US children will face death if he’s deported because of his connection to the US military.
His case has drawn support from religious leaders, immigrant advocates and US military veterans who have attended rallies and events on his behalf.
His daughter, Courtney Al-bumohammed, 17, said that for now she was happy that her father wouldn’t be detained and leave her family.
Al-bumohammed is one of the 1,400 Iraqis under deportation orders in the US.
Some, like Al-bumohammed, have faced the orders for years because they committed crimes.
His convictions involved his ex-wife and he later won full custody of his children.
A federal judge this week halted the deportation of Iraqi nationals like Al-bumohammed, including many Christians fearing persecution, while courts review the orders to remove them from the US.
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