Detentions shine spotlight on U.S. policies that critics say is harshest system in the world for asylum seekers
By Miriam Raftery
Hear our KNSJ radio coverage of the rally, aired on August 3, 2015: /sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/2016/April/OtayIraqis-FinalShow.mp3?641
Hear our August 7, 2015 radio broadcast on KNSJ with Mark Arabo, a national spokesman for Iraqi-American Chaldeans, and Amir Moshe, a former translator for the U.S. Army in Iraq who has two cousins detained inside the Otay facility. Listen Now: /sites/eastcountymagazine.org/files/2016/April/8-4-15%20MOSHE%20-%20MARK%20-%20CHALDEAN%20INTERVIEW.mp3?722
August 2, 2015 (El Cajon) – Over three dozen Iraqi Chaldean Christians from El Cajon held a prayer vigil and protest outside the prison walls at the Homeland Security detention facility at Otay Mesa on Thursday, calling for the release of their family members and friends who fled ISIS only to be imprisoned when they arrived in America seeking asylum. Over two dozen have been held in indefinite detention for over four months, some up to seven months, with no hearing date set for release.
The detainees include a woman who pleaded for release to see her mother, who died Thursday at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.
Father Noel from St. Peter’s Cathedral in El Cajon told East County Magazine that all of the detained Christians have family in El Cajon who vouch for their identities and are willing to take them in.
The situation is far different than for Iraqi Chaldeans who came here a decade ago seeking asylum. “Ten years ago, they were held just a couple of days and they were not in a jail,” he told East County Magazine. “Today, they are fleeing ISIS," escaping genocide in their homeland, only to arrive and be imprisoned in the U.S.