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Refuge and deportation The future as property in the border regime

Angela Naimou

Deportation orders scramble the long-cultivated imaginings of the future that has informed refugee and immigrant life-worlds. Border regimes claim so much time. The current migration order and its expulsion politics are designed to take time, to steal the wealth and deplete the political imagination in service to racial capitalism. This chapter considers how futurity gets conceived, narrated, and weaponized in stories of diaspora that had marked themselves “safe” from the deportation terror, if only informally, but whose members are transformed in law from having effective or de jure ex-refugee status to becoming deportees. It begins with the recent detention and deportation cases of Iraqi nationals who have made their lives in the United States. The first part of the chapter considers how the temporalities of refuge and deportation converge. It discusses the case of Hamama v. Adducci, a nationwide class-action lawsuit brought by the ACLU of Michigan and Code Legal Aid to challenge the final orders of removal given to more than 1,400 longtime US resident Iraqi nationals since the summer of 2017. As Shahram Khosravi writes, “The deportee’s tomorrow belongs elsewhere.”1 Deportation can mean transformative loss, transformed future, a disruption in continued migration, interminable time held in detention, or it can mean impending death.21 briefly discuss the story of Jimmy Aldaoud, who was born in Greece as an Iraqi refugee and who lived in the Detroit metro area for most of his life, until he was deported to Najaf, Iraq, and died two months later, in Baghdad.

The second part of the chapter discusses refugee and deportee temporalities in the logic of capital. It brings together Mimi Tlii Nguyen's critique of refugee gratitude (as the feeling of perpetual indebtedness to liberal empire for its having given the refugee the gift of freedom) and Khosravi’s thinking of deportation as stolen time, as time and resources accumulated by racialized foreign-born people and taken away from them by the deportation regime. Given time as a “gift of freedom” and “stolen time” as the time of deportation capture one’s future in the language of property. Deportation law itself has relationships with colonial practices and legal slavery. These are temporalities under duress, as Ann Laura Stoler conceives of duress in terms of "colonial effects,” “protracted temporalities,” and “constraints and confinements” of colonial presence: duress as “neither a thing nor an organizing principle so much as a relation to a condition, a pressure exerted, a troubled condition borne in the body, a force exercised on muscles and mind” (Stoler 7). They are also distressed futures, where distress has relevant but narrower meanings, as when a ship or person calls for immediate intervention, but also in reference to a legal practice of "distrainment,” which referred to seizure of cattle or property to exert pressure on the owner to repay a debt or right a wrong (OED).

I redirect these questions of temporality and refugee futurity through the narrative fiction of Hassan Blasim, an Iraqi writer and filmmaker who left his studies in Baghdad for Iraqi Kurdistan during Saddam Hussein’s reign, before Blasim hazarded the clandestine migration routes to reach Finland and gain asylum there. I propose Blasim’s fiction participates in what Ignacio Sánchez Prado theorizes as “anti-world literature”: a “set of formal and ideological stances against the axioms and ideologies of world literature theories and practices” (Sánchez Prado 142). As a political and aesthetic project, “anti-world writing” challenges the “world’s purported utopian promise in any of its guises” by going against the grain of globalization and aesthetic worlding. This concept of anti-world literature draws from theories of world literature but takes as its reference Mexican theorists and modes of literary production that pose challenges to traditions of world literature in theory.

Blasim’s short story, “The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes,” specifically tracks a version of refugee gratitude and deportable future in its narration of an Iraqi man who gains asylum in Holland and should have a future of happily-ever-after, except that his former life overtakes his dream space, with fatal consequences. The short story participates in the project of anti-world fiction in confronting the “impossibilities and aportas” of the alternative world-making conventionally the province of postcolonial literature (Sánchez Prado 148). But I also suggest that the short story offers a way to understand the contemporary world literary field in its enduring presence as imperial debris, narrating the nightmarish overlapping realities of border regimes and distressed futures within the story while offering important challenges to the way the literary field contends with the current border regime.

Deportations to Iraq

On the weekend of June 11, 2017, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) arrested 114 Iraqi nationals from the metropolitan Detroit area, many of whom had lived in Michigan for decades or most of their lives, as part of a large Chaldean and Assyrian Christian Iraqui minority community. Most were retroactively sent notice that their supervised releases were revoked due to their "failure to provide Iraqi travel document,” even though ICE is aware that the nationals were consistently unable to attain such documents despite repeated attempts (Motion for Preliminary Injunction, Hainama v. Adducci, 6).

Since then, more than 350 have been detained, and about 1,400 permanent legal residents have been affected. Many eventually received relief from removal based on their individual cases. Some have been deported to Iraq, their only identification documents being one-way travel documents that become invalid once the plane lands. Some were harassed by ICE with threats of life in detention and effectively coerced into signing their own removal papers.

Before 2017, these low-priority deportation orders for Iraqi nationals had been regarded as defunct in all but name, and most of the people were part of supervised release that required an annual check in with ICE. Iraq was one of the "recalcitrant” or “at risk of non-compliance” states like Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia, which resisted repatriating some or all deportees from the United States. The Iraqi government regularly refused to facilitate deportations by processing the required paperwork, pointing to the deportees’ long absence from the country as well as humanitarian concerns for their safety as minorities under threat by sectarian factions and Da’esh.

For their part, ICE points to the sudden raids as lawful enforcement of the final orders of removal, enabled by a March 12, 2017, agreement between the United States and Iraq that included dropping Iraq from the travel ban (aka the Muslim Ban, aka “Executive Order 13769, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States”) in exchange for accepting a number of deportees.

Iraqi nationals are a small minority in the deportation regime: but despite the discourse and public protest that point to their exceptionality, these lives are thoroughly enmeshed in the deportation terror and rise of immigration detention, as well as the drug war and its earlier massive increase in drug convictions (a common charge for the Iraqi nationals being drug possession or intent to distribute). Deportation as a technology of state terror overwhelmingly has been practiced on Mexican and Central American nationals, the recipients of “the deportation terror” (Buff 523).3 US immigration control is the “most highly racialized police and penal system in the United States today,” with nationals from Mexico and Central America comprising "97 percent of all deportees and 92 percent of all immigrants imprisoned for unlawful entry” (Lytle Hernández 2).4 Longtime legal residents with criminal records or other historically low-priority removal orders have become increasingly targeted for deportation to countries transformed by colonization and war. Language rides two different legal rails for citizens and noncitizens - “aggravated felonies” in immigration law may not be considered so in criminal law, making low-level offenses triggers for deportation regardless of legal immigration status.

Iraqi diasporic communities in Michigan largely were established through regular channels of immigration law, but they nurture strong forms of refugee memory. Under threat of deportation, they also inhabit a kind of refugee futurity. Hundreds of Iraqi American families and allies gathered in protest, their posters featuring images of the crucifix, victims of ISIS (aka Da’esh), words asking Trump to listen to these protestors who had supported him, and signs about time served as rehabilitation. I attended one demonstration in front of the District Courthouse in downtown Detroit on June 15, 2017, in support of the ACLU of Michigan initiation of the class-action habeas corpus petition Hamama v. Aducci. That petition asked for a halt to the deportations so that individuals could have the time needed to seek counsel and resolve their cases in the immigration courts before being deported.

Important to this request for more time was the claim that the US noncitizens were significantly likely to meet the bar for fear of persecution or torture if deported. The petition cited the Immigration and Nationality Act, which prohibits the US government from removing a noncitizen to a country where he or she is more likely than not to face persecution or torture. The petition noted that the INA is consistent with US obligations under the Refugee Act and the Convention against Torture.5

The ACLU later filed a Motion for Preliminary Injunction of Detention Issues asking the District Court to allow the Iraqi nationals to be placed on bond while their cases continue, unless the government could provide a reason for keeping someone in prolonged detention for reasons of security or other criteria. US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan (Southern Division) Judge Mark A. Goldsmith decided both motions in favor of the petitioners, halting deportations so that Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal on hold could pursue their individual cases in immigration courts. He also ruled that petitioners should not be kept in prolonged detention unless the government showed reason for it. District Judge Goldsmith planned to sanction the government for lying and misleading the court by submitting false declarations stating that repatriation was imminent.6

These legal victories of Hamama v. Adducci acknowledged a detention regime that significantly disrupted people’s ordinary futures at work or with family, and delayed them from seeking avenues of relief that were legally open to them, which themselves were enormously costly and time-consuming, as Appellate Judge Helene White would go on to emphasize in her 2018 dissenting minority opinion. Documents showed the government used harassment, intimidation, and arbitrary and prolonged detention, putting pressure on the detainees to agree to their own deportation when the United States could not succeed with the Iraqi government. The struggle was from the start about freedom over immigrants’ future time: where to live it and how to use it.

In December 2018 - the same month when the Remain in Mexico policy, aka The Migrant Protection Protocols, was announced - the US Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down Goldsmith’s two to one, ruling on the contention that all federal courts lacked jurisdiction over such cases involving habeas corpus in immigration law. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals’ majority opinion also argued against the immigrant deportees’ rights. The appeals court ruling affirmed that no length of time or evidence of good behavior would mitigate the petitioners’ ultimate foreigner status: "Though many of these Iraqi nationals had come to expect that the execution of their removals would never materialize, they had been living in the United States on borrowed time,” the appeals court ruling said (Hamama v. Adducci, 6th Cir., 3). It pointed to the theoretical possibility that these nationals could have sought legal adjustment of their status decades earlier - a claim dissenting Appellate Judge White describes as disingenuous, as there are many reasonable barriers and new risks in doing so unless deportation becomes imminent (Hamama v. Adducci, 6th Cir., Dissenting Opinion, 16-21).

What kind of “borrowed time” is this? Who is the lender and why is the debt being called in now, or at all? A key argument in the class-action lawsuit Hamania v. Aducci is that the detained Iraqi nationals would have a credible fear of persecution were they to be deported to Iraq. Extensive supporting expert testimony and records were supplied to explain that “while some individuals will face particular threats based on their religion, ethnic identity, political affiliation or other factors, all American-affiliated Iraqis face a significant risk of persecution and torture if removed” (Hamania v. Adduce! Petitioners/Plaintiffs' Reply, 8). Judge Goldsmith had agreed that the risks to life were significant. Appellate Judge White’s subsequent dissenting opinion also agreed that the petitioners presented credible evidence that they were likely to be killed or tortured if deported:

The government did not contest this evidence, and the majority does not find fault with the district court’s findings that without a stay, deportations would commence immediately, with death, torture, and persecution probably resulting. Instead, the majority faults Petitioners for failing to file motions to reopen earlier. Yet there are good reasons for Petitioners' failure to do so.

(Hamania v. Adducci, 6th Cir., Dissenting

Opinion, 21)

There are questions not welcome in immigration court cases: What does your time and your body mean to the state that argues for your deportation in the face of your dread of persecution, torture, and likely death? Why is anything less than fear of future persecution or torture an inadequate defense from deportation? How does the international border regime depend on the expression of state sovereignty as future-oriented control over borders, where the state and its agencies use the language of security, risk, or discretion to invent the rules of the game, to shift countless burdens onto the denizens captured into playing, and to demonstrably break their own rules without repercussion?

Jimmy Aldaoud was a man from the Detroit area and a friend of some of my cousins, though I never knew him. He was born in 1978 in a refugee camp in Greece to parents with Iraqi nationality: under the citizenship laws of Greece, he was given Iraqi nationality though he'd never lived there. He arrived as a 6-month-old infant to Michigan, where he would be diagnosed with diabetes as a child and was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. He had difficulty managing his mental and physical health, as evinced in his list of petty criminal offenses, his father’s frequent calling of police on him when they fought, and his occasionally being houseless.

In June 2019, he was put on a plane by ICE agents and dumped at the Najaf airport in Iraq. His sister got a call from a panicked Iraqi immigration officer worried about Jimmy’s safety in Najaf in Southern Iraq, far from Chaldean support networks. Aside from a small supply of insulin, ICE claims ensured “continuity of care,” what he experienced was a terrifying discontinuity. Aldaoud had none of the documents necessary to travel within the state or integrate into society, no access to health care he needed; he had no knowledge of Ar abic, indeed had no real connections to the place. Aldaoud had advocates beyond his family: a Michigan Senator, US-based lawyers and advocates, and a lawyer in Iraq assisting deportees rushed by the United States and thus without Iraqi ID papers. A member of the Iraqi parliament even asked a local Chaldean Catholic priest in Baghdad to contact Aldaoud. The priest invited him to the Internally Displaced Persons camp he operated, but in a video reflecting on Aldaoud’s plight, he says that Aldaoud declined: “he chose another path,” that of trying to convince the US government to let him return home. Aldaoud earlier had posted his own widely circulated video to Facebook:

I’ve been in the United States since six months old, you know. And just two and a half weeks ago, an immigration agent pulled me over and said, you’re going to Iraq. And I refused, I said I've never been there. I’ve been in this country my whole life, pretty much since birth. ... They just wouldn't listen to me, they wouldn’t let me call my family, nothing. They just said, you’re going to Iraq, and your best bet is to cooperate with us, that way we’re not gonna chain you up, we’ll put you on a commercial flight. ... I’m here now, and I don’t understand the language, basically I been sleeping in the street, I’m diabetic ... I been throwing up sleeping in the street, trying to find something to eat.


Like other refugees who became long-term residents only to be deported, he was thrown into a future of punitive abandonment. For him it was Najaf 2019, dying two months later in Baghdad. His sisters made a statement in response to news of his death: “Jimmy was a sweet person with a good heart. ... We hope Jimmy’s story opens people’s eyes and hearts. ... We should not be deporting people to their death overseas” (Padilla). I don’t know how Jimmy’s childhood as a refugee affected his life, his health problems, or his police record. Only some of the Chaldeans and other Iraqi nationals thr eatened with deportation were refugees as Jimmy Aldaoud was when he arrived in the United States. But all of them must now inhabit a refugee-like future, as legal teams argue in court over their fear of persecution and death in order to keep them from being displaced from a home that threatens to expel them as foreigners for having made this place a home, yes, but only on “borrowed time.”

Given time, stolen time

Mimi Thi Nguyen theorizes refuge within broader imperial formations through her study of the freighted relation of refugee figures and war and necropolitical futures. She considers how the position of the Vietnamese refugee within post-2001 liberal empire was organized by the structure of debt, in which the resettled refugee has been given the “gift of freedom” and in gratitude seeks to make good on what the gift truly is - a debt. Nguyen enfolds the thought of Foucault and Derrida, extending the conceptual possibility of Derrida’s “given time” to

Refuge and deportation 63 consider how the resettled refugee is granted a future but as a political debt to the state, in which time is converted into freedom. Having received the gift, the war refugee is then perpetually trying to do the impossible, to pay back the debt. Liberal empire thus provides “imperial hospitality,” and in exchange the refugee feels indebted.7

The refugee patriot is encapsulated in the political work of Viet D. Dinh, an architect of the Patriot Act whose personal history as a Vietnamese refugee child was celebrated and cited as a reason for his desire to work on the 2001 USA Patriot Act.8 The grateful refugee, feeling perpetually indebted to the state, transforms themselves into refugee patriots: in this way, Cold War temporal politics find their way into current global orders such as the so-called war on terror. A temporality of refugee gratitude encounters a temporality of deportation.

Strange temporalities emerge from this relationship between giver and receiver of the gift of freedom, as former refugees enlist themselves in maintaining future wars and borders.9 Former refugees, or their children, enlist to fight “future Vietnams" even as they describe the haunting sense that the military has thrown them back into the time of Vietnamization, in a new site and with a different cast. Refugee diaspora becomes the "target and the instrument" of the gift of freedom: not only are they central to the “we-win-even-when-we-lose” narrative of rescuing Vietnamese refugees from Communism, but they also become the instruments for the targeting of future populations first marked for devastating US violence and subsequently transformed into the objects of US aid and rescue (Espiritu 174). In some sense, it is not merely the refugee figure but the idea of the future itself that becomes both target and instrument of international war and migration strategies.

The deportation regime steals time: for example, it is the theft of wages already earned and would-have-been earned, and the intergenerational wealth stolen. State agencies and private businesses together get in on the deportation grift: counties, ICE, CoreCivic, the Geo Group, or the bail bond company named Libre that targets Latino detainees and extorts them with high fees and an electronic shackle on their ankles, making detainees pay with interest for their time under continued tracking, surveillance, and confinement outside detention centers.

Deportability is the time of ordinary living that the state can steal or remove to another place at any future moment. The deportation order is a deliberately belated exclusion, a spectacularized punishment performing the promise of sovereign authority and national purity even as it is an act that is thoroughly international and transnational. It is part of the “wars on mobility,” what Achille Mbembe describes in another context as “wars whose aim is to turn discounted bodies into borders.” It weaponizes time in the bodies of detainees and seizes control over the temporal process of everyday life (s/p).

Diasporic imaginaries built on refugee and immigrant gratitude for having been given “the gift of freedom” reinforce ideological attachments to the promise of US liberal empire. The Iraqi Chaldean diaspora in the United States has formed much of itself thr ough those attachments. There is an opportunity to challenge this ideological core that I think has interfered with more liberatory, daring politicalimaginings of what human collectivities that confront bordered up ideas of nationality and law can mean and do in the world.

Anti-world writing and imperial debris

In an interview for his UK publisher Comma Press, Blasim recounts the moment when he was invited by his publisher to visit the UK and was subjected to embassy interviews and scrutiny. He had already gained asylum in Finland by that time. Encapsulating the paradox of transnational imperial wars and militarized borderregimes, Blasim narrates the complex pressures that are then exerted onto the storytelling process for refugee and asylum cases. Consider the opening frame narrative of his short story “The Reality and the Record”:

Everyone staying at the refugee reception center has two stories - the real one and the one for the record. The stories for the record are the ones the new refugees tell to obtain the right to humanitarian asylum, written down in the immigration department and preserved in their private files. The real stories remain locked in the hearts of the refugees, for them to mull over in complete secrecy. That's not to say it’s easy to tell the two stories apart. They merge and it becomes impossible to distinguish them.

(Blasim, 155)

Blasim’s rueful jokes on refugee and migrant futures are antihumanitarian challenges to state and transnational cruelty. Blasim’s writings do not make a humanitarian plea to grant refugees better futures - they show you the violence of a world where some get to decide with impunity and others are consigned to plead. Nadia Atia notes in her reading of the quotation above that the word for “stories” in the original Arabic is hakawat, in the Ar abic tradition of “fabulous and phantasmagoric fables,” rather than merely “stories” (Atia 323). The fantastical resides here, as the narrator goes on to merge the two stories into an impossible reality, but the short stories also call up a critical tradition of cynicism in Iraqi political jokes about dictatorship that are here redirected to humanitarian militarism and the state it has destroyed. Lori Alien’s discussion of cynicism in Palestinian human rights work as potentially hopeful resonates here, as a concept meant to “evoke the sense of shared disappointment and ‘fed-upness’... that is anchored in the memory of and desire for better political conditions” (Allen 26).

Sánchez Prado theorizes an anti-world literature as contemporary writing that confronts the “necropolitical present” conceptually, aesthetically, and politically. This anti-world literature is not another word for dystopic - they are stories that linger on the horrors of violence as violations, temporal, spatial, corporeal, ecological, that are a version of realism, tuned with more intensity, almost as if one’s nightmare is reality in techno-color. Iraq and Mexico resonate with each other and become imprecise analogies for each other, triangulated by US imperial violence and resource extraction, where necropolitical power inflicts maximum dispossession and death on entire populations. There is a unity of large-scale structures of

Refuge and deportation 65 global migration politics and the temporal experience of migration for the people whose futures come into contact and conflict with the global migration order.

As an ambivalent part of the imperial debris that I suggest is the world literary system itself, “The Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes” opens a way out of refugee patriotism or deportee-as-refogee positions that the border regime constructs. Through horror temporalities and a bifurcation of privileged and unprivileged forms of writing, as I’ll very briefly note below, Blasim’s work has affinities with Mexican writer and literary theorist Cristina Rivera Garza’s conception of necroescrituras in its engagement with the “aesthetic and political consequences of necropolitics for literary writing” and with the paradigmatic shift to digital writing (Sánchez Prado 150).

A key stance in this anti-world literature is to challenge the privileged world literary system in favor of unprivileged forms - communal or collaborative writing, nonfiction or cross-genre writing, poetics of found language, and writing outside the novel form. Blasim provides his own style of unprivileged and privileged forms: he publishes the Arabic stories online, releasing his writing from censorship and language from the logic of property (what Rivera Garza calls a poetics of depropriation). He also writes in Arabic amiyya, the language of ordinary life or the street, instead of the formal language of education and traditional register of serious Arabic literature. He now is a Finnish citizen writing in Arabic whose work does not become part of the Arabic print publishing market and whose writing has not been recognized as Finnish.

Even so, Blasim’s writing has vaulted into the circuits of contemporary global fiction. Beyond posting his stories on a personal website so that his stories circulate easily and freely, without Arabic publishing houses, translations by Jonathan Wright and publications in English have been as vital to his success as his uncanny uses of genre fiction, which highlight temporalities honed in gothic, horror, dystopia, speculative, sci-fi, and fantasy fiction but then channeled into fiction of Iraq in its immediate past, present, and futures (the future being the one thematic constraint in his anthology Iraq + 100).

Blasim resists his work’s potential world literary marketing as “magical realism,” half-jokingly calling his own work “nightmare realism.” The “Nightmares of Carlos Fuentes” begins with a variant on a theme in other post-2003 fiction set in Baghdad, including Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad: the picking up of body parts after explosions. It then proceeds with Cortázar-Borges-Fuentes momentum, in the key of “nightmare realism.”

Salim Abdul Husain worked for the municipality cleaning streets until he finds a special ring on a finger. Soon he’s in Holland where he gains asylum and a new name that he didn’t know was famous but that sounded like a nice way to evoke his brownness as Latinness in his new country. Carlos Fuentes takes Dutch language classes and promises himself not to speak Arabic or “mix with Arabs or Iraqis” ever again. Throwing himself foil tilt into political gratitude, he praises everything good as uniquely Dutch and abhors everything bad as distinctly Iraqi. “Every day he made progress in burying his identity and his past. He always scoffed at the immigrants and other foreigners who did not respect the rules of

Dutch life and who complained all the time” (Blasim, Corpse Exhibition 189). Carlos

felt he is the only one who deserved to be adopted by this compassionate and tolerant country, and that the Dutch government should expel all those who did not learn the language properly and anyone who committed the slightest misdemeanor, even crossing the street in violation of the safety code. Let them go shit there in their shitty countries.

(Blasim, Corpse Exhibition 190)

He marries a Dutch woman and invents his past as the son of a Mexican oil engineer who worked in Iraq. He is grateful immigrant, he has contempt for other immigrants, he is one of Nguyen's "refugee patriots”: “Yes,” he says, “give me a country that treats me with respect, so that I can worship it all my life and pray for it” (Blasim, Corpse Exhibition 191).

What breaks down for Carlos is his dreamtime, i.e., the time he cannot maintain the suppression of himself as Salim. There his repression finds freedom despite himself, throwing him into Iraqi dreamscapes of the poor district where he was born or making him speak Iraqi Arabic to defend himself in Dutch courts. Nightmare versions of the self he suppressed escalate, despite trying every outlandish thing to get the nightmares to stop. Eventually, he dreams he is Carlos Fuentes and that he is Salim Abdul Husain: and just as Carlos begins to shoot wildly to finally kill him off, Salim jumps out of the window. In the end, Dutch newspapers identify the dead Carlos Fuentes as “an Iraqi man” rather than “a Dutch national” (Blasim, Corpse Exhibition 196). The narration suggests he could forgive the Dutch: “But,” it says, “he will never forgive his brothers, who had his body taken back to Iraq and buried in the cemetery in Najaf’ (Ibid.). The story closes with a reference to the mysterious ring, which is lost and found as a linked motif across the short stories in the collection: here in a picture taken of Carlos-Salim’s partially shrouded body on the sidewalk, it “glowed red in the foreground, like a sun in hell” (Ibid.).

Salim finds a false escape route using the logic of property: he finds the ring and keeps it; his cousin in France mentions the name of Carlos Fuentes and he decides to take it for his own. The name of Fuentes, though, may operate like imperial debris not only of empire but of the world literary system - Fuentes being one of the last Mexican writers to have been vaulted into the world literary market. Salim doesn’t like to read literature - but if he had read Fuentes’ The Death of Artemio Cruz, he might have realized that he is like and unlike Artemio Cruz, who reflects on his life through memories on his deathbed, with a transcendent narrator-author mercilessly narrating Cruz’s internal putrefaction as his memories flash to show us a life lived in violence and for profit, with the secrets Artemio never fully reckoned with erupting into the novel in its final pages.

I’ve talked about futurity as ideas of time stolen, delayed, distressed. In Blasim’s story, Salim/Carlos is posthumously returned to Iraq against his will -he is dead, but the narration notes that he “will never forgive” his brothers for

Refuge and deportation 67 arranging that he be buried in the cemetery in Najaf (Ibid.). Najaf is a sacred city, a burial site visited by Shi’ite Muslim pilgrims and also among the largest cemeteries in the world, the Wadi-us-Salaam (j'A? 1 Ju-j’T) or “Valley of Peace.” It is a city of the dead and has been so for over 1,400 years. Najaf was captured by US forces early in the 2003 invasion, and the cemetery swelled from the violence. This also means it is a city where the living must contend with what the poplitics of death means for collective life.

Najaf is also where Jimmy Aldaoud’s brief time in Iraq began. When he died, his sisters arranged for his body to be brought to the United States to be mourned in the Mother of God Chaldean Catholic Church in Southfield, Michigan, laid to rest next to his mother in the cemetery nearby.


  • 1 Shahram Khosravi, “Stolen Time,” Radical Philosophy, RP 20.3 (2018), n.p. https://
  • 2 See Ruth Gomberg-Munoz’s essay in this volume for a discussion of post-deportation activism and supportive communities in Mexico.
  • 3 Buff refers to a 1950 pamphlet by Agner Green, “The Deportation Terror: A Weapon to Gag America.”
  • 4 The most dramatic expansions in mandatory detention and deportation have drawn upon the 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act (AEDPA) and the 1996 Illegal Immigration and Immigrant Responsibility Act (IIRIRA). The 2001 USA Patriot Act reorganized and expanded detention and deportation targets.
  • 5 See Jessica Zhang, “Hamama v. Adducci: Narrowing Habeas Relief for Immigrants in Removal Proceedings” in Lawfare website. April 10,2019. https://www.lawfareblog.c om/hamama-v-adducci-narrowing-habeas-relief-immigrants-removal-proceedings
  • 6 For unsealed documents, see -documents-released

For Goldsmith ruling, see also: yg/judge_goldsmith_ru ling_to_release_iraqi_nationals.pdf

  • 7 Nguyen, 135. See also Nguyen on repayment in the form of reparations that Iraq has been making to US corporations (M Nguyen 235, Enl26).
  • 8 Dinh left the Bush administration for a university position in 2003. See Nguyen, 133— 178.
  • 9 See Bui, The Returns of War.


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