In May of 2016, a great injustice occurred in America. Robert DeKelaita, a beloved attorney and activist on behalf of thousands of voiceless and persecuted people, mostly Christians from the Middle East, was convicted on trumped up charges by federal prosecutors in Chicago. Get this: He was found guilty of daring to claim that Christian persecution exists in Iraq and Syria. Daring to believe there are Islamic terrorists ready and waiting to attack these Christians if deported back to the Middle East.
The conviction sent shock waves throughout the world, leading many to suspect foul play and corruption on the part of the prosecutors and the Department of Homeland Security Agents (from the Office of Inspector General).
Attorney Robert DeKelaita was indicted on September 23, 2014. His office was ransacked and searched by numerous agents for hours. The multiple agents ostensibly found nothing of value. The level of intensity of the case, the determination of the federal prosecutors and agents, and the aggressive manner in which various former clients were intimidated and pursued was stunning. Certainly, in a case which involved no concern for security, the motives of the DHS agents and the US Attorney’s Office were bewildering.
Attorney Robert DeKelaita is no criminal. For close to 20 years he has rescued thousands of vulnerable asylum seeks from the miseries of oppression in the Middle East and delivered them into productive and stable lives in America. These asylum seekers are in large part Christians who had been escaping persecution from countries like Iraq and Syria; victims of failed and destroyed states who sought stability and family reunion in the West. Robert DeKelaita was their light at the end of the tunnel, their salvation, and not an unscrupulous attorney bent on making money.
The prosecution’s case, to all who attended court daily, was clearly orchestrated. It sought to show that Attorney Robert DeKelaita was an unethical and dishonest attorney who told his clients to lie. Through 9 former clients, the government, in clearly prepared and coached testimony, sought to show that over a decade ago these clients were told to lie. It was, to all who witnessed it, a clear example of coached and prepared testimony meant to sway the jury’s anti-immigrant testimony. All of the clients were Assyrian/Chaldean Christians. All of them were from the Detroit area. All of them were from Iraq and Syria. From the thousands of clients represented by Attorney Robert DeKelaita, the government selected the 9 to destroy his career, his business, and his reputation. The damage done is irreparable.
Many wondered how these clients were coerced into testifying against their attorney years, in some cases a decade and a half, later. It was a shocking revelation of American justice. This case, and the government’s efforts behind it, is deeply disturbing. It is disturbing to all attorneys and to all those who value a compassionate legal system that does not allow for the persecution and prosecution of the weak and vulnerable in society. The US Attorney’s Office has chosen a target that it feels the American public cares little about; refugees who are from the war torn countries of Iraq and Syria. In other words, the untouchables of our society. However, the government is mistaken.
This case has begun to awaken in many Americans the injustice of a system that needs repair. This case is not one that undermines the nation’s legal immigration system, but one that undermines the trust Americans have in a system that targets the weakest in society. It is, from all apparent facts, a case of selective and unfair prosecution.
So what is the message that was just sent to Americans: Think twice before you dare claim persecution of Christians exists in the largely Islamic Middle East.