US federal judge suspends more than 1,400 Iraqi deportations for two weeks

ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – A US federal judge has delayed deportations for Iraqi nationals  for an additional two weeks per a nationwide class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), as the Justice Department questions the district court’s jurisdiction and lawyers argue that their clients would face unique circumstances if returned Iraq.

The US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan Southern Division filed an “Emergency Order Staying Removal to Protect Nationwide Class of Iraqi Nationals Facing Imminent Removal to Iraq” on Saturday, which was granted on Monday.

US District Judge Mark Goldsmith granted the additional two-week stay for 1,444 Iraqi nationals nationwide stating he needs more time to determine if his court is the proper place to consider the fate if forced to return to Iraq. Federal prosecutors said in a court on Monday that 199 people of those have been detained.

The stay initially had only protected 114 detainees from the Detroit area.

“It’s an unusual case for all kinds of reasons,” he said.

The US Justice Department is adamant that a US District Court judge does not have jurisdiction in immigration matters. The 14-day stay will give Goldsmith more time to decide.

“They need enough time to file those petitions to reopen. It’s the government that is hurrying these people toward deportation,” Margo Schlanger, attorney for the Iraqi immigrants, told the judge.

The order allows detainees to stay for an additional two weeks and will give them the opportunity to make their case in front of an immigration judge as to why they should be allowed to remain in the US.

In exchange for Iraq to be removed from US President Donald Trump’s initial travel ban via executive order, Iraq had agreed to accept any deportees from the US. The ACLU argues that if Iraqis were forced to return to Iraq, they could potentially face “persecution, torture, or death.”


Many Iraqis fear persecution or death if they return to Iraq after having lived on American soil for decades. Some of those facing deportation include Chaldeans, Kurds and Sunni Arabs — all minorities in Iraq.

"But it's a very extraordinary circumstance because of the on-the-ground situation in Iraq," Reuters reported Daniel Lemisch, the acting US Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, as saying by telephone.

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US federal judge suspends more than 1,400 Iraqi deportations for two weeks US federal judge suspends more than 1,400 Iraqi deportations for two weeks Reviewed by Defense Alert on 23:24:00 Rating: 5

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