Detroit Judge Blocks Deportation of Iraqi Immigrants

FILE PHOTO: Protesters rally outside the federal court just before a hearing to consider a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of Iraqi nationals facing deportation, in Detroit, Michigan, U.S., June 21, 2017. REUTERS/Rebecca Cook

A Detroit judge has blocked the potential deportation of Iraqi immigrants with criminal records who were arrested by federal immigration agents in June.

On Monday, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith granted a preliminary injunction request made by attorneys for the Iraqi nationals who had asked him to halt their deportation, saying they would be persecuted in Iraq.

In his decision, Goldsmith wrote that the case involved “extraordinary circumstances,” noting that the Iraqis suddenly faced deportation after years of many of their cases being “dormant.”

Goldsmith said the constitutional rights of the Iraqis were being violated, writing that “the writ of habeas corpus — the fundamental guarantor of liberty — must not be suspended, unless in the rare case of foreign invasion or domestic rebellion.”

Attorneys for the Iraqis cheered Goldsmith’s decision.

“This is the biggest relief we have received during this crisis, and it is exactly what we have been hoping for — a halt to the deportations and an opportunity to be heard,” said Clarence Dass, an attorney who represents about 25 of the 114 Iraqis arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last month in Michigan.

Dass said the injunction will last 90 days.

“For people who have been learning their fate every two weeks, 90 days is a lifetime,” Dass said. “All we are asking is for a chance to show that deportation of these particular individuals is a death sentence, and the judge’s decision today allows us to do that. Once we show those facts and circumstances, I am hopeful we will be able to save their lives.”

A spokesman for ICE said the agency declined to comment on the ruling. ICE has said previously that the Iraqis detained have criminal records, pose safety threats, and have already had their cases heard in courts. The crimes they were convicted of range from marijuana possession to homicide.

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SOURCE: USA Today; Detroit Free Press, Niraj Warikoo