This is half a story. Let’s be clear. The missing half lies with the government, and at this point, the government is not very forthcoming with details.
So what you’ll hear is the side of the family, and the morning of June 11, when they heard banging on their condo door in West Bloomfield, Mich., and the husband, Dorid, heard the wife, Jenny, say, “It’s the border patrol. What should I do?”
And Dorid said, “Let them in.”
And Jenny said, “No, I can’t.”
And Dorid said, “Let them in” because he didn’t want them kicking down the door. That would scare the children, and he always protected his children.
This is the story of one of 100-plus Iraqi immigrants around Detroit, many of them Christians, who came to this country seeking asylum from brutal persecution (much like many of our ancestors did) and who now, 20, 30, even 40 years later, are being rounded up to be sent back to that same persecution in Iraq, a place few Americans would set foot in these days.
Dorid Marogi, his family explains, came here as a child refugee in the 1980s. He was 7. He lived in Detroit and he went to church and he attended Pershing High School off of 7 Mile Road. A few years after graduation, he was convicted twice for marijuana-related charges. He served nine months in jail and nine months in a work-release program. He lost his green card as a result.
Maybe for you, the story ends there. Maybe you say, “You commit a crime, you lose the right to be here.” Maybe you have an argument.
But it’s not the only argument.
Here’s another. Marogi, 42, learned from his youthful mistakes, found work as a cook, met Jenny, an American citizen, at a church bingo night, married her a couple of years later, and has been raising, for the last 14 years, a family of three kids — Kyle, Kaleb and Khloe — with one more on the way.
“He’s the most amazing, generous man,” his wife says. “You can walk anywhere — the grocery store, the street, there’s always people that know him, that shake his hand. There’s nobody that he doesn’t get along with.”
She talks about how her husband grills for the neighborhood kids, how he gives clothes and household items to those in need, how he has complied with the law for decades.
She says this from a bed in Providence Park Hospital, where, suffering from multiple sclerosis, she is pregnant with their fourth child.
From the moment the immigration officials took Dorid away in handcuffs, Jenny has not seen him. He remains in a detention center in Youngstown, Ohio. Jenny was denied five straight requests to see him, she says, before finally being granted one on Friday. By that point she could not go. The stress, she says, led to premature labor symptoms — her water broke when she was only 27 weeks along — and she must now stay in the hospital until the baby comes. It’s not due until September.
“So my kids don’t have their father and don’t have their mother, either.”
As I said, another argument.
There are more. There’s the one President Donald Trump himself once made about Christians being persecuted around the world. It’s the reason Iraqi Chaldeans were given asylum in America for decades. And for decades, knowing what a heartless place Iraq has historically been to Christians — attacks, beheadings, mutilations, cold-blooded murder for refusal to convert — America would not deport even those who violated their immigration terms. It may not have been strict. But it was humane.
Now, in an effort to stay off of Trump’s travel-ban list (which is still in the courts), the Iraqi government has agreed to take back a certain number of former nationals. And our agents are rounding them up. In simple terms, we will leave to door open to unknown Iraqis to enter, as long as we can send some back — even though some we’re sending back have proven, despite their mistakes, to now be productive, nonthreatening residents.
There’s also the nature of the crimes. Marijuana offenses like Marogi’s are neither right nor commendable. But if we threw out every young American who got nabbed for such offenses, we’d be saying good-bye to many of our children.
“The people they’re taking are being made out to all be rapists and murderers,” Jenny laments. “That’s not true.”
They are also not terrorists. So many people hear “Iraq,” “immigrants,” “crime” and they just assume these are radical Islamists wanting to kill us. In fact, many are Christians from one of the hardest places in the world to be Christian. When critics slam empathy toward peaceful Muslims, they often say, “Christians have been persecuted more than any religion on Earth.” Yet, now we would ship them back to that same persecution, quite possibly to their death?
The government will say it is keeping us safe from criminals who took advantage of our policies. That’s half a story. But the other half, cases like the Marogi’s — scared children, pregnant mother, nonviolent crime, time served, decades without incident, a productive, American family about to be destroyed — that’s a solid half a story, too, and one that must be considered.
Mitch Albom is a columnist for the Detroit Free Press. Readers may write to him at: Detroit Free Press, 600 West Fort Street, Detroit, Mich. 48226, or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Column courtesy of the Associated Press.