US Judge Halts Deportation of 1,400 Iraqis

A federal judge in Michigan has temporarily halted the deportation of around 1,400 Iraqi nationals, giving time for the courts to review orders to remove them from the U.S.

Many of these Iraqis are Chaldean Christians, members of a group of Catholics indigenous to Iraq, who fear they will be persecuted for their religion in their homeland.

The controversy broke out one weekend in early June when the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) rounded up 114 Iraqis in the Detroit area.

According to the government these people are being deported because they committed crimes in the U.S., although plenty of reports attest to ICE arresting immigrants who have no criminal record or who have committed minor, nonviolent offenses.

In total, around 1,400 Iraqis face deportation from the U.S., but the majority are not being held in custody. Previously they were allowed to stay in the U.S. because Iraq refused to issue travel documents for them.

However, this all changed in March, when Iraq was removed from Trump’s revised Muslim ban, and in exchange the country agreed to accept nationals who were being deported from the U.S.

This decision did not take into account the conditions for Chaldean Christians in Iraq. 

“Equivalent To A Death Sentence”

“There are laws that pertain to deportation, but there also laws that pertain to human rights,” Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean Community Foundation, told ThinkProgress. “The conditions in Iraq have worsened, they have not improved, especially for Christians.”

Manna added “I think [deporting them back to Iraq] is equivalent to a death sentence.”

That’s when the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) stepped in and filed a class-action lawsuit to stop the deportations.

So far, the ACLU has achieved this temporary reprieve. 

Judge Mark Goldsmith of the Eastern District of Michigan wrote his opinion, in which he disagreed with the federal government that district courts don’t have the authority to rule on such a case:

“This Court concludes that to enforce the Congressional mandate that district courts lack jurisdiction -despite the compelling context of this case – would expose Petitioners to the substantiated risk of death, torture, or other grave persecution before their legal claims can be tested in a court,” wrote Goldsmith.

Given that Trump’s campaign platform included promising to protect Christians in other countries from persecution, we can hope that the ACLU will ultimately succeed.

What is the Trump administration’s record on deportations and arrests of immigrants so far?

Fewer Deportations, Increased Arrests

According to ICE, 57,735 undocumented immigrants were deported between January 20 and April 29, 2017. In the same period in 2016, there was a total of 66,484 deportations, meaning a 13 percent decrease since last year.

However, ICE also announced that in that same time period under Trump, they arrested 38 percent more undocumented immigrants than in 2016 under Obama: 41,318 people compared to around 30,028 in 2016.

Thus, many more people are being held in detention facilities, waiting for their cases to make their way through the court system. According to The Washington Post, this system has over 530,000 immigration cases pending, and hearings are being scheduled for up to six years down the road.

A new report from The Daily Beast suggests that not all those detainees will make it out alive.

Many people are also alarmed by ICE tactics. Earlier this year, Trump press secretary Sean Spicer said the president wanted to “take the shackles off” ICE agents, so that they could make more arrests. Now agents are arresting immigrants whether or not they are guilty of any crime, and in especially cruel ways: a Salvadoran woman was removed from a hospital where she was undergoing treatment for a brain tumor; ICE has arrested numerous immigrants who checked in for scheduled green card appointments; distraught children grow up alone with parents deported.

Iraqi Christians should not be forced to return to a situation where they fear for their lives, and the same holds true for all immigrants who have fled their country in a desperate attempt to reach safety.

What happened to the compassionate U.S., a country which used to be a leader in the cause of human rights?

 

Photo Credit: Screenshot from Detroit Free Press video

72 comments

Mike R
Mike Ryesterday

Good

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Mike R
Mike Ryesterday

Good

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Mike R
Mike Ryesterday

Good

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Mike R
Mike Ryesterday

Good

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iloshechka A
iloshechka Aabout a month ago

thanks

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Margie F
Margie FOURIE1 months ago

Here is hoping that those legally in any country, should be allowed to stay.

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Jetana A
Jetana A2 months ago

Here's hoping the Iraqi Christians are allowed to stay in the US. Surely we have enough compassion to prevent their martyrdom?

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heather g
heather g2 months ago

I hope more State Judges take a stand and protect anyone who suffers from uman Rights Abuse.

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Lisa S
Lisa Sears2 months ago

Thanks for sharing the news.

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Leanne K
Leanne K2 months ago

I wish more people would consider how and why the U.N declaration of human rights came about. After the 2nd world war, quite literally the entire world said how an we prevent this ever haooening again - particularly the 'final solution' and the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It took years and years to author and Australia played an important part. This is something that we Australians ought to be very proud of. Likewise during the 70s under Fraser we welcomed many refugees from Vietnam and had many progressive programs. Now, we with so much are so lousy greedy and selfish

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