Judge orders release of detained Iraqis waiting deportation over criminal convictions

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On Tuesday a U.S. District Judge in Detroit ordered the federal government to either release or grant bond hearings to hundreds of Iraqis facing deportations back to their native country due to criminal convictions.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled that the Iraqis that have been held in custody for six months or longer must be granted a bond hearing or released within 30 days, Reuters reported.

“Our legal tradition rejects warehousing human beings while their legal rights are being determined,” Goldsmith wrote in the ruling.

Approximately 1,400 Iraqi immigrants, including hundreds already in custody, are subject to deportation under the ruling. Iraq had initially refused to take them back, but a March 2017 deal between the Iraqi and U.S. governments resolved the standoff and allowed the Trump administration to proceed with deportation efforts.

The initiative to deport Iraqi immigrants with criminal convictions was part of a larger push by the Trump administration to enforce existing immigration laws and ensure that other countries which previously ignored requests to take back their citizens comply with the orders.

Goldsmith halted the deportations of the Iraqis last year, contending that they, many of whom are Christians, would be subject to danger in Iraq due to their religion and criminal records.

“Each petitioner faces the risk of torture or death on the basis of residence in America and publicized criminal records. Many will also face persecution as a result of a particular religious affiliation,” Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith also said that the U.S. government does not have a “written agreement” with Iraq regarding their intent to take back their citizens, so it remains unclear if they will accept them.

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