After 33 Yrs in Prison, Christian Veteran Seeks Easter Reprieve from Deportation to Iraq

An Iraqi Christian who came to the U.S. at 5 years old and served in the U.S. Army now faces deportation to a country he no longer remembers and where almost certain death awaits him. While he did shoot a police officer in an attempted armed robbery, he served over 30 years in prison for that offense. When his term finally ended, he was detained for deportation.

"It's inhumane, unjust, and irresponsible to deport a Christian and U.S. Army veteran to a war-torn country where ISIS is committing Christian genocide," Tiara Shaya, niece of Nahidh Shaou, told PJ Media in an email statement. "This is not just a deportation. It's a death sentence."

Shaou's story is truly tragic. He grew up in the U.S. and enlisted in the military at age 17. He served between 1979 and 1981, spending time in the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). In 2006, he was awarded the Veterans of Foreign Wars medal. His niece explained that the Carter administration attempted to keep its actions in Korea silent at the time, so Shaou was awarded decades later for his service in the DMZ.

While Shaou was serving his country overseas, his father passed away. When he came home after his father's death, his mother contracted breast cancer, so he had to work to support his family. All this time, he suffered from depression, guilt, anxiety, and PTSD, according to his family.

"My uncle is the definition of a patriot," Shaya told PJ Media. "He served this country when he wasn't even a citizen. He is an American by every standard except paperwork. He's been here since he was five and doesn't even remember Iraq."

The niece added that Shaou's "father didn't want him to join the Army, but my uncle insisted and felt very strongly that he had a duty to serve his country. When my uncle left Korea to come home for his father's funeral, he felt he had abandoned his comrades and still feels that way."

According to The Detroit News, Shaou said he tried to become a citizen when he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1980 at age 17, but the process took time and was interrupted when he went to serve in South Korea for six months. When he was discharged from the Army, he went to Detroit to resume the process, but the proceedings were terminated after he was charged with armed robbery with intent to murder in 1983.

Shaou recalled the crime in an interview with The Detroit News. At a McDonald's after a long day of work, he went to go to the bathroom, but the person behind the counter questioned why he hadn't ordered his meal first. He wanted to teach the worker a lesson.