Dem Congresswoman Called Deportation ‘Cruel And Unusual Punishment,’ Fought Against Removal Of Refugee Charged With Molesting Child
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 25: U.S. Rep. Hillary Scholten (D-MI) speaks at a press conference following a House Democratic Caucus meeting at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 25, 2023 in Washington, DC. Scholten spoke on the need to protect abortion rights.
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As Michigan residents express outrage over the death of a young woman who was killed allegedly by an illegal immigrant in Grand Rapids, Democratic Congresswoman Hillary Scholten — whose district covers the city — is being criticized for her past work attempting to stop the U.S. from deporting an Iraqi refugee charged with child molestation.

Scholten, a freshman congresswoman who flipped her district from Republican to Democrat in 2022, worked as an immigration attorney before she was elected to Congress and once wrote a journal article for the St. Louis University School of Law where she and her co-author, Maureen Sweeney, called deportation “cruel and unusual punishment.” Scholten’s work as an immigration attorney appeared to reflect her beliefs laid out in the 2011 journal article when, beginning in 2018, she fought to stop the deportation of an Iraqi woman who was charged with molesting a 12-year-old girl, according to court documents first reported on by The Midwesterner.

Azal “Mary” Saleh, a refugee and registered sex offender from Iraq, was facing deportation after being charged with molesting a child when Scholten defended her. Saleh appealed her removal order, arguing that she was protected by the Convention Against Torture.

Following The Midwesterner report, Michigan Republicans slammed the congresswoman and anyone seeking to protect illegal immigrants charged with serious crimes from deportation. Former GOP gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon ripped Scholten on her eponymous podcast last weekend, saying the Democratic congresswoman “defends pedophiles, keeps them in this country when they are illegal immigrants, [and] also wants to get ICE out of her county.”

Scholten’s fellow Michigan representative, Tim Walberg — a Republican — represents a district just south of Scholten’s. Earlier this month, an illegal immigrant from Mexico was arrested for allegedly breaking into a home in Walberg’s district and sexually assaulting two young girls.

Walberg told The Daily Wire in a statement that anyone “working to keep illegal immigrant sex offenders in this country is radical and morally wrong.”

“Sadly, Michigan is not immune from violent crime committed by illegal immigrants, whether that be Ruby Garcia’s murder or the sexual assault of two young girls in my district a few weeks ago. Working to keep illegal immigrant sex offenders in this country is radical and morally wrong,” Walberg said. “We should be projecting a clear, unified message that this is not acceptable.”

Rep. Scholten has not responded to a Daily Wire request for comment.


According to court documents, Saleh came to the U.S. as a refugee in 2010 and lived with a foster family in Michigan. While staying with the foster family, Saleh was raped and forced into prostitution, the court documents state. Saleh then moved in with her case worker whose granddaughter later accused Saleh of sexually assaulting her.

“Though Petitioner contests the truth of these allegations, she pleaded guilty to Criminal Sexual Conduct in the Fourth Degree, Victim Between Ages 13-16, the offense that prompted the instant removal proceedings,” the court documents state.

Saleh fought against the deportation, arguing that “she would be tortured upon removal to Iraq because of her identity as a female, Christian, Westernized, single mother without family support and with a history of forced prostitution and a criminal record that identifies her as having engaged in homosexual activity.”

The Iraqi refugee’s appeal was denied in part and dismissed in part, but Saleh, now 31 years old, still lives in Lansing, Michigan, according to the Michigan Sex Offender Registry.

Scholten has sought to address the illegal immigration crisis under President Joe Biden by visiting the southern border earlier this year, calling it a “national security crisis, a humanitarian crisis, and an economic crisis.” The congresswoman’s district was then rocked by the murder of 25-year-old Ruby Garcia, whose body was found near a Grand Rapids road last month. Brandon Ortiz-Vite, who was deported in 2020 under the Trump administration, was charged with killing Garcia.

“My heart breaks for Ruby Garcia and her family as they grapple with this unspeakable tragedy,” Scholten said following Garcia’s murder. “The individual who committed this heinous crime should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I’m continuing to push for bipartisan immigration reform that both secures our border and makes sure that individuals who come to our country are fully vetted to keep our communities safe.”

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The Daily Wire   >  Read   >  Dem Congresswoman Called Deportation ‘Cruel And Unusual Punishment,’ Fought Against Removal Of Refugee Charged With Molesting Child