After Backing Trump, Christians Who Fled Iraq Fall Into His Dragnet

STERLING HEIGHTS, Mich. — A few Sundays ago, federal immigration agents walked through the doors of handsome houses here in the Detroit suburbs, brushing past tearful children, stunned wives and statuettes of the Virgin Mary in search of men whose time was up.

If the Trump administration prevails, more than 100 of these men may soon be deported, like the tens of thousands of other people rounded up this year as part of a national clampdown on illegal immigration.

But the arrests may have stunned this community more than most.

While President Trump was hurling verbal napalm at Mexico and vowing to keep out Muslims during his campaign, he was also promising to look out for people from these men’s besieged corner of the world.

They are Christians from Iraq — a land that they and their families fled decades ago because, they say, to live as a Christian in Iraq is no life at all, and sometimes means death. They settled in Detroit and its suburbs, accumulating into what may now be the largest population of Chaldean Christians in the world. They opened businesses, founded a dozen Chaldean Catholic churches and rose in numbers and wealth.

Even so, they, too, are subject to American immigration law — despite what the Chaldean community took to be an ironclad promise from a president whose election many of them saw as a miracle from God, helped along by their donations, their prayers and blessings from religious leaders.

 “Christians in the Middle East have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue!” Mr. Trump said on Twitter in January, returning to a campaign-trail refrain that had captured Chaldean hearts and ballots across this stretch of Macomb and Oakland Counties. As the Chaldeans like to say, once with pride, now with fury, the area helped tip Michigan to Mr. Trump in November.