ACLU files lawsuit to halt deportation of Iraqis

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The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in an effort to stop the U.S. federal government from deporting more than 100 Iraqi nationals who were detained following raids last weekend.

Filed in federal court in Detroit, the lawsuit seeks a temporary stay of any deportations, which the ACLU believes could begin Friday. The group argues that it would be illegal to deport the Iraqi nationals without allowing them the opportunity to prove that they could face torture or death if returned to their home country. The ACLU requested a Friday hearing regarding the situation.

“Not only is it immoral to send people to a country where they are likely to be violently persecuted, it expressly violates United States and international law and treaties,” Kary Moss, executive director for the ACLU of Michigan, said in a statement. “We are hoping that the courts will recognize the extreme danger that deportation to Iraq would pose for these individuals. Our immigration policy shouldn’t amount to a death sentence for anyone.”

According to the ACLU, most of the 114 Iraqis detained in last weekend’s Detroit-area raids are Chaldean Christians, but the group also includes Shiite Muslims and Christian converts. The ACLU claims that, if deported, all of the detainees fear violent retribution.

The ACLU contends that a number of the detainees have resided in the U.S. for decades, were arrested for “minor offenses,” have been fully compliant with their conditions of supervision, and have no additional arrests on their records.

ICE reported that all of those arrested had criminal convictions for crimes including murder, rape, assault, burglary, weapons violations and drug trafficking, and were ordered deported by an immigration judge after “full and fair” proceedings.

An additional 85 Iraqi nationals were detained elsewhere in the country, according to ICE. As of April 17, there were final orders for the removal from the U.S. of 1,444 Iraqi nationals. Eight have been returned to Iraq.

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