By Steve Friess
June 26, 2017
DETROIT — A federal judge late on Monday halted the deportation of all Iraqi nationals detained during immigration sweeps this month across the United States until at least July 10, expanding a stay he imposed last week that initially only protected 114 detainees from the Detroit area.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith sided with lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union who filed an amended complaint on Saturday seeking to prevent Immigration and Customs Enforcement from deporting 85 Iraqis from elsewhere in the United States.
The ACLU said in its Saturday filing that those being deported could face persecution or torture because many were Chaldean Catholics or Iraqi Kurds and that both groups were recognized as targets of ill-treatment in Iraq.
The advocacy group also filed a motion asking the judge to extend his order nationwide to ensure that people who could face persecution, torture or death in Iraq are not deported.
The arrests of the Iraqis in Michigan were part of a sweep by immigration authorities who detained about 199 Iraqi immigrants around the country. They had final deportation orders and convictions for serious crimes.
Goldsmith on Thursday ordered a stay in the Michigan Iraqis’ deportation for at least two weeks while he decides whether he has jurisdiction over the merits of deporting immigrants who could face physical danger in their countries of origin.
On Monday, he expanded his stay to the broader class of Iraqi nationals nationwide, saying his stay applies to the removal of all Iraqi nationals in the United States with final orders of removal who have been or will be detained by ICE.
Goldsmith also said his stays were designed to give detainees time to find legal representation to appeal their deportation orders, and to give him time to weigh the question of his jurisdiction.
A representative for U.S. Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt praised the ruling for saying that “the lives of these individuals should not depend on what part of the United States they reside and whether they could find a lawyer to file a federal court action.”
(Reporting by Steve Friess in Detroit; Editing by Eric M. Johnson and Bill Trott)
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