A USA judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the deportation of about 100 Iraqi nationals rounded up in MI in recent weeks who argued that they could face persecution or torture in Iraq because they are religious minorities.
A written order by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith said the court was unsure if it had "subject-matter jurisdiction" in issuing a stay.
The ACLU and detainees argue that if the Iraqis were forced to return to Iraq, they would face "persecution, torture, or death".
In the meantime, the lower court orders would stand. The background President Trump signed an executive order that would ban refugees and immigrants from seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the United States for 90 days and would suspend a refugee program for 120 days. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has defended the detainees, who were identified by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) due to their past criminal records.
"The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq".
"Although most were ordered removed to Iraq years ago (some for overstaying visas, others based on criminal convictions for which they long ago completed any sentences), the government released them, often under orders of supervision", the ACLU said in its amended complaint.
The stay granted June 21 applies to 114 Iraqis arrested in metro Detroit over the June 11 weekend.
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"The operation in this region was specifically conducted to address the very real public safety threat represented by the criminal aliens arrested", said Rebecca Adducci, field office director for ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Detroit, in a statement issued by her office.
"Like what will happen is the judge will expand the order - whether or not this judge really has the authority to do that - I think that's going to be the big issue tomorrow", says WWJ legal analyst Charlie Langton.
But the attorneys challenged whether it was fair to return this population to Iraq, where Islamic State (IS) and other jihadist terror groups have targeted Chaldeans and other Christian groups. "We are American, and we are part of the system". According to ICE, all but two of the 114 arrested in MI had criminal convictions; the other two have pending criminal charges.
One of the petitioners, Moayad Barash, 47, was detained by immigration agents during a family beach outing in June. They began migrating to the Detroit area in the 1920s. Moreover, she argued that Goldsmith doesn't have jurisdiction to decide immigration matters that belong in immigration court, and that this case shouldn't be granted class action status.
Dass said he had two clients that contacted him when the Trump administration first announced its immigration policy.
Potential physical harm "far outweighs any conceivable interest the government might have in the immediate enforcement of the removal orders before this court can clarify whether it has jurisdiction to grant relief to petitioners on the merits of their claims", Goldsmith said.