The American Civil Liberties Union won a key victory in court Monday, when US District Judge Mark Goldsmith upheld their amended complaint seeking to prevent customs officials from deporting Iraqi immigrants.
ACLU lawyers argued that they are deporting people, some Chaldean Catholics, Sunni Muslims, or Iraqi Kurds, to places where they are immediately in imminent danger and are targets for their religious or ethnic identities.
Goldsmith agreed, stating in the 7-page decision: “Such harm far outweighs any interest the Government may have in proceeding with the removals immediately.”
In a Thursday ruling, Goldsmith extended the stay of Iraqis imprisoned in Michigan to two weeks, while he determined his jurisdiction over the ethics of deporting immigrants to countries where they could face harm. On Monday he expanded this decree to nationwide Iraqi nationals, simultaneously giving them time to find legal counsel as well.
Federal prosecutors said in court on Monday that there are 1,444 Iraqi nationals given deportation orders, but only 199 were detained, those with convictions for serious crimes, as the result of a nationwide sweep by immigration authorities.
Daniel Lemisch, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, noted it was an extraordinary opinion. “But it’s a very extraordinary circumstance because of the on-the-ground situation in Iraq,” Lemisch said by phone to Huffingtonpost.com.
ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt was ecstatic over the justice the ruling delivers to less well off immigrants saying, “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.”
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