June 12 (UPI) -- Immigration officials rounded up and detained about 80 people in Detroit in a deportation sweep as distraught relatives watched.
The sweep Sunday largely involved ethnic Chaldean Muslims who immigrated to the United States from Iraq. Although some have lived in the United States for decades and some have criminal convictions, family members said those detained arrived in the United States legally. They added that some are married to U.S. citizens, WDIV-TV, Detroit, reported.
Those rounded up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials were handcuffed before they boarded several buses and were sent to an ICE office in east Detroit; many reside in the city's northern suburbs of Warren and Sterling Heights.
As the potential deportees were escorted by officials to the buses, family members stood at a nearby fence, shouting in English and in foreign languages.
"There's a reason why we fled our country. It's not to have fun in America but to be safe," Zeinab al-Badry, whose husband was among those detained, told WDIV-TV.
Another unidentified family member said she and Maher Hanna, her detained brother, spent three years in a U.S. prison for marijuana possession, 20 years ago.
Some of the family members expressed fear the detainees could be deported to Iraq.
Junior Seiba, whose cousin was detained, said, "If you go to Iraq and pass by [the Islamic State], they are going to get killed.
President Donald Trump issued an executive order in January to increase deportation of immigrants with criminal records who arrived in the United States illegally. Salvin Maloof, whose Chaldean family emigrated from Iraq, said many in Detroit's Chaldean community voted for Trump at the urging of their religious leaders.
"Hell yeah, I regret it," Maloof said on Sunday.