A federal judge in Detroit granted a temporary stay to 114 Iraqi nationals due up for deportation.
According to MLive.com, the order was issued by U.S. District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith of Detroit.
The arrests are part of a broader net cast nationwide, in which immigrants previously accused and convicted of criminal offenses are being sent back to their countries of origin. All of the Iraqis ensnared had been found guilty of ‘serious crimes,’ ranging from narcotics possession to rape and murder.
However, a report from Reuters in June made mention of the fact that many of the detainees had come to the United States as children and had found themselves in legal trouble decades ago.
While deportation orders had been approved in the past, the United States found itself unable to do away with its unwanted Iraqi immigrants. Baghdad, for a very long time, was either unable or unwilling to furnish passports and other necessary travel documents to would-be deportees.
That changed after the Republic of Iraq negotiated with the Trump administration to be taken off the list of ‘terror-prone’ countries cited in the President’s second executive order curtailing travel to the United States from seven Muslim-majority countries.
Many of the rounded-up immigrants, as well as their families, worry that deportation is tantamount to a death sentence.
The American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit on behalf of the men, argued that ‘many of those affected in Michigan are Chaldean Catholics, who are ‘widely recognized as targets of brutal persecutions in Iraq.’’
The ACLU described the action as “death deportations.”
Video shows an elderly Iraqi man being arrested by ICE officials. The man’s daughter said he’d served 15 years in prison for assault after chasing down men who’d beaten his son.
One of the detainees interviewed by MLive.com said he couldn’t speak any of the languages native to Iraq, having spent most of his life in the United States. A tattoo on his forearm of the Virgin Mary was another cause for concern – he wondered whether such a prominent Christian branding could be cause for kidnapping or even killing.
However, Justice Department attorneys working to see the deportations through speculated that the immigrants had nobody to blame but themselves.
“They waited until removal was imminent to ask for injunctive relief, thereby creating their own emergencies,” said Department of Justice lawyer Jennifer Newby.
The judge who ordered the stay, Mark A. Goldsmith, noted he wasn’t certain whether he had the jurisdiction to permanently halt the deportations – part of the reason why he’s holding out judgment for another two weeks.
Half a dozen Michigan State Representatives – five Democrats and a single Republican – have urged the Department of Homeland Security to delay the deportations until Congress can review the agreement between the United States and Iraq, so as to ensure the safety of any future deportees in the war-torn republic.