Nashville's Kurdish community concerned about immigration arrests


Some Nashville Kurds are speaking out about a wave of arrests in their community by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

Shevan Arif says the Kurds that are facing the possibility of being sent back to Iraq have a dangerous future.

"That's like me dropping you off if you were in Africa and I dropped you off where they behead people," said Arif.

Arif says the arrests hit home for him last weekend when ICE agents waited outside his home and then pulled him over to ask questions about his brother when he left.

Arif's brother is among several hundred Iraqi nationals ICE is trying to bring in across the country.

The reasons why are different for each but the agency says it's focusing on them now because of a recent agreement Iraq made with the U.S. to take in these people.

"The overwhelming majority of whom had criminal convictions for crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses," said ICE Spokesperson Thomas Byrd in a statement about the arrests.

Nashville Attorney Joel Sanderson is helping represent some 16 cases in Tennessee.

"If there's somebody there who's committed a murder that doesn't mean you should deport 15 people who didn't," said Sanderson.

Sanderson says many of his clients came here as refugees in the 90s.

He says that vast majority don't have a serious criminal history.

"There's nothing that should've made them on this unlucky list they were just unlucky," said Sanderson.

Arif says that's the case with his brother.

He says the interaction he faced with ICE agents has him worried who might be next.

"Now I feel it's pressure for me to go anywhere I feel like they're watching me," said Arif.

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