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Chaldean Catholic bishop calls ICE raid, arrests 'painful' for community


  • Chaldean-American Lavrena Kenawa cries during a June 12 rally outside the Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield, Mich. Her uncle was among dozens of Chaldean Christians who were arrested by federal immigration officials over the weekend of June 10 and 11 in the Detroit metropolitan area, which members of the local church community said left them sad and frustrated. (CNS photo/Rebecca Cook, Reuters)
  • Women react as they talk about family members who were arrested by immigration officials during a June 12 rally outside the Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield, Mich. Dozens of Chaldean Christians were arrested by federal immigration officials over the weekend of June 10 and 11 in the Detroit metropolitan area, which members of the local church community said left them feeling sad and frustrated. (CNS photo/Rebecca Cook, Reuters)
  • Chaldean-Americans protest June 12 outside Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield, Mich., after dozens of Chaldean Christians were arrested by federal immigration officials over the weekend of June 10 and 11 in the Detroit metropolitan area. (CNS photo/Rebecca Cook, Reuters)
  • Chaldean-American Mike Kajy, right, stands with son Miguel at a June 12 rally outside Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield, Mich., and talks about family members arrested by immigration officials a day earlier. Dozens of Chaldean Christians were arrested by federal immigration officials over the weekend of June 10 and 11 in the Detroit metropolitan area. (CNS photo/Rebecca Cook, Reuters)

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SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (CNS) -- When U.S. immigration agents rounded up and arrested Chaldean Christians in southeast Michigan June 11, it was "a very strange and painful day for our community in America," said the head of the Chaldean Catholic Eparchy of St. Thomas the Apostle, based in Southfield.

"With the many Chaldeans that were awakened by Immigration Customs Enforcement agents and consequently picked up for deportation, there is a lot of confusion and anger," Bishop Francis Y. Kalabat said in a statement posted on the eparchy's website.

News reports said about 40 people were arrested near or at their homes and were put on buses June 12 to be taken to a federal detention center in Youngstown, Ohio. The same day, a rally outside the Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield drew dozens of people, many of whom said the federal government's actions had left them sad and frustrated.

In his statement, Bishop Kalabat said the eparchy was contacting and working with "many agencies to try to stop this bleeding," including the U.S. State Department, members of Congress, the Iraqi Embassy, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and "any agency that could file an injunction to keep anyone from being deported."

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