After a recent immigration sweep across the United States, many Iraqi nationals found themselves detained, and set to be deported back to Iraq on Monday. However, Judge Mark Goldsmith has halted the deportation of these individuals, blocking their deportation until at least another two weeks.
The judge justified his choice to the court, saying that additional time was needed to properly determine whether the court has any jurisdiction over the case to begin with, according to documents from the court.
The group of Iraqi nationals who helped file the lawsuit alongside the ACLU brought forth the argument that it is highly possible that the Iraqis facing deportation will return to their country full of fear for their safety, as they would be facing “persecution, torture, or even death.”
At first, Attorneys that were working on behalf of the federal government did not agree with the Iraqi nationals concerns, but during the court hearing admitted that the court did have the power to extend the stay, according to ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project deputy director, Lee Gelernt,Gelernt told CNN in a statement:
‘As the court has recognized, these individuals are potentially in grave danger if sent back to Iraq. There is simply no reason why the government needs to deport them before they have had an opportunity to present their claims that they will be tortured and possibly killed if returned to Iraq.’
A few days after ICE arrested more than 100 Iraqi nationals in the Michigan area, a suit was filed by the ACLU and some of the Iraqi nationals that had been detained during this arrest, which requested a stay of removal for any Iraqi that was currently detained under the jurisdiction of the Detroit ICE office.
ICE has arrested 199 Irai nations since only May. The majority of them being from Detroit, according the agency’s press secretary. ICE also claims that most of the Iraqis they have arrested have had criminal records.
Not long after the initial stay had been granted, the ACLU wanted to expand the class-action lawsuit in order to cover all Iraqi nationals across the country that had final orders of removals, meaning they were to deported. Their request was granted by the judge, expanding the temporary stay to cover a group of over 1000 Iraqi nationals, 85 of which face deportation when the stay is lifted.
In addition to all the work the ACLU has been doing to help the detained Iraqis, they also requested a list from the federal government containing all 1,444 Iraqis names that are currently protected by the temporary stay, so that they can make sure they have proper legal representations. According to Gelernt, as of Saturday, the ACLU has yet to receive the requested list from the government.
It has been argued by the US attorney’s office that a federal district court could not possibly have jurisdiction over whether or not Iraqis be deported. Lawyers for the government, however, have expressed belief that it should just be handled in immigration court, according to Gina Balaya, who is the public information office for the US attorney’s office, in Michigan.
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