A U.S. judge heard arguments against the deportation of around 100 Iraqis arrested in the Detroit Metropolitan area.
The arrests were undertaken by immigration authorities nationwide, seeking to detain Iraqi immigrants who had committed ‘serious crimes’ and had their final deportation orders approved.
The move came after the Republic of Iraq agreed to begin accepting deportees in March as a condition of being removed from Donald Trump’s executive order blocking migration from a half-dozen Muslim-majority countries.
Reuters reports that some of the Iraqis detained by immigration officials had come to the United States as children and ‘committed their crimes decades ago.’
However, many were allowed to remain in America after the Iraqi government was either unable or unwilling to furnish passports and other critical travel documents.
Under the confines of the new international agreement, put into effect between the United States and Iraq on March 12th, the Republic will have to make room for deportees.
Civil rights watchdogs worry that the Iraqis – many of whom are Christians – could face persecution in an Iraq currently at war with itself.
The American Civil Liberties Union initiated a class action lawsuit, asking the court to order an emergency halt on the planned removals, ‘arguing that many of those affected in Michigan are Chaldean Catholics, who are ‘widely recognized as targets of brutal persecution in Iraq.’’
Moreover, the ACLU also claimed the planned deportations could go against the United Nations Convention Against Torture, to which the United States is a signee.
A response from the federal government said that district courts wouldn’t have jurisdiction over the case, but would allow the ACLU to file the lawsuit in an immigration court.
Jennifer Newby, a Justice Department attorney, argued that the deportations should proceed because many of the detained immigrants had plenty of time between the issuance of the orders and their finalization to seek legal counsel and injunctive relief.
“They waited until removal was imminent to ask for injunctive relief, thereby creating their own emergencies,” said Newby in a hearing before U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith in Detroit.
Immigration Customs and Enforcement, commonly referred to by its acronym, ICE, said the 100 Metro Detroit Iraqis were among 199 rounded up nationwide. The crimes the detainees had been convicted of included murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, burglary, and drugs and weapons offenses.
Half a dozen Michigan lawmakers from the U.S. House of Representatives – five Democrats and a Republican – have since 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.