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Group calls for release of Chaldean refugees

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Clutching rosaries, posters reading “Don’t jail Christians,” and religious images of Jesus and the Virgin Mary, members of San Diego’s Chaldean community Thursday sought to call attention to the plight of 27 Iraqi Christians being held at the Otay Detention Center.

The group of about 30 demonstrators assembled for an hourlong prayer service outside the detention center in support of the Christians, who were detained by immigration authorities after they attempted to cross the U.S. border from Mexico without documentation several months ago.

Iraqi Christians, also known as Chaldeans, have been fleeing escalating persecution in the Middle East at the hands of the Islamic State terrorist group for about two years. The country’s Christian population has declined markedly since the Iraq War began in 2003.

Family members and activists say they’ve been given little details as to why they’ve been detained for so long, despite being refugees from Middle East terror.

“We’re asking for answers and we’re asking for an explanation,” said Mark Arabo, a spokesman for the local Chaldean community and president of the Neighborhood Market Association.

“These aren’t people who just decided to cross the U.S.-Mexico border. These are people saying, ‘we have nowhere else to go.’”

Arabo said that with immigration processing completely shut down in Iraq, refugees have no legal way of coming to the United States. Many of them flee to other countries first and then make their way to Mexico to cross the border.

“There is no other way,” Arabo said.

Read more at San Diego Union Tribune.

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