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Detroit judge considering national freeze on Iraqi deportations

27 June, 2017, 03:50 | Author: Melody Ballard
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Iraqis and supporters rally outside the Theodore Levin United States Courthouse, Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Detroit.

A federal judge has ruled that 114 Iraqi immigrants facing deportation can stay in the US for at least two more weeks as he sorts out whether the court has jurisdiction.

More than a hundred Iraqi Christians rounded up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Detroit in June are safe from deportation - for now.

The detainees' family members argue that many of those facing deportation to Iraq would be placed in danger due to their religion.

Most of the 114 Iraqis are Chaldean Christians, but some are Shiite Muslims and converts to Christianity. They believe it should be handled by an immigration court, according to Gina Balaya, public information officer for the USA attorney's office for the Eastern District of MI. They want to have their cases reopened so they can argue that circumstances have changed in their home countries, making their previous deportation orders null. Adducci said in a statement that the majority of those arrested in the Detroit area "have very serious felony convictions, multiple felony convictions in many cases".

They were detained in a nationwide sweep conducted after Iraq agreed to accept deportees in exchange for being removed from the Trump Administration's revised travel ban.

The ACLU challenged the government after ICE agents arrested more than 100 Iraqis -including many who've been in the us for decades - in recent raids throughout metropolitan Detroit.

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Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Newby asserted that the judge lacks jurisdiction to reach beyond the MI area.

The advocates, along with the ACLU, fear the immigrants, many of them Iraqi Christians, could face persecution in Iraq - either tortured or killed - and deserve more time to argue their cases.

Added the letter: "We would urge you to take the same approach to any individual, regardless of whether they share our Christian faith or not, who does not pose a threat to the safety of Americans and for whom deportation would be likely to result in persecution, torture, or death".

Some of those affected came to the U.S. as children and committed their crimes decades ago, but they had been allowed to stay because Iraq previously declined to issue travel documents for them.

This past week, Bishop Kalabat noted in a Facebook post that Chaldean Catholic Patriarch Louis Sako was also involved in the efforts to halt the deportations and "spoke with an worldwide Catholic organization that is in contact with Vice President Pence directly".

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith is delaying their deportation for 14 days so he can decide if his court has jurisdiction in their case.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith heard arguments but didn't immediately rule on the matter. The ACLU says possible deportations aren't expected at least until after the request is heard.

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