After spending nearly his entire life in the US Jimmy Aldaoud was deported to Iraq, where he died of natural causes two months later. Now his body has been allowed to return home.
Aldaoud’s remains were flown to Detroit on Friday for burial, according to a statement from Michigan Congressman Andy Levin. The 41-year-old Iraqi national died of complications from diabetes in early August after being deported to Iraq in June.
The congressman’s office coordinated with Aldaoud’s family, US and Iraqi officials and funeral homes in both countries to arrange the transport of Aldaoud’s remains back to Michigan. The Chaldean Community Foundation, an advocacy organization for Iraqi Christians living in the US, paid for the trip, Levin’s office said.
“Jimmy’s death was an avoidable, unnecessary and predictable tragedy,” Levin said. “My only hope is that Jimmy’s family feels some sense of relief now that his body can be buried in his home country, next to his mother.”
Aldaoud and his family came to the US lawfully as refugees in 1979 when he was six months old, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials told CNN earlier this month. His parents and three siblings became US citizens, though he never did.
When he was deported to Iraq in June, he’d never visited the country, had no family or friends there and didn’t speak Arabic, Levin’s office said.
His body was found in August in a Baghdad apartment he shared with another Iraqi-American deportee. His attorney Edward Bajoka said Aldaoud couldn’t find insulin in the country, which caused his death.
ICE officials said when he was deported, he’d been “supplied with a full complement of medicine to ensure continuity of care.”
Aldaoud is expected to be laid to rest at a private funeral later this week, the congressman’s office said.
“Jimmy was a sweet person with a good heart,” Aldaoud’s sisters said in the release. “He loved our mom, and we are comforted knowing that he will be laid to rest next to her.”
“We hope Jimmy’s story opens people’s eyes and hearts to understanding that we should not be deporting people to their death overseas.”
Aldaoud had been detained by ICE before
Aldaoud had an extensive criminal history, a Detroit ICE official told CNN, which involved “no less than 20 convictions between 1998-2017.”
ICE officials told CNN he’d had deportation orders since 2005, though he’d spent time in ICE custody in the early 2000s while incarcerated. He was detained again in 2017 and spent 18 months in an ICE detention facility in Ohio before his December 2018 release.
He was arrested by local law enforcement in April for stealing a car, and ICE again detained him, Bajoka said.
His attorney said Aldaoud had several mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, that contributed to his “trouble with the law, and ultimately [are] what led to his deportation.”
CNN’s Sonia Moghe contributed to this report.