U.S. judge rules in favor of thousands of Iraqi immigrants

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Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) can claim a win on behalf of over 1,400 illegal Iraqi immigrants after a federal judge in Michigan indefinitely blocked their removal.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith granted a preliminary injunction late Tuesday, granting the illegal Iraqis time they can use to appeal their orders of removal in federal courts. The potential deportees say they are at risk if they return to their native country.

The order directly affects approximately 240 Chaldeans Christians and other Iraqis who were rounded up by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on June 11. Taken from Sterling Heights, West Bloomfield, and Dearborn, the arrested individuals have been detained at locations in Michigan, Ohio, and Louisiana.

The 34-page order, released on Monday only hours before an earlier ruling would have expired, also affects another 1,200 illegal Iraqis who aren’t in custody but who could be arrested for immigration violations.

In his order, Judge Goldsmith writes that the legality of deporting the Iraqi illegal aliens doesn’t outweigh concerns for their safety:

“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. While cost and efficiency in administering the immigration system are not illegitimate governmental concerns, such interests pale to the point of evaporation when weighed against the potential lethal harm petitioners may suffer.”

The injunction comes after Goldsmith previously suspended the deportation of the Iraqi nationals.

However, according to Department of Justice lawyer William Silvis, the Iraqis would not be deported to areas where they would be in danger.

“This court and petitioners rely primarily on conditions in ISIS-controlled territory to establish harm, but no alien would be removed to that part of Iraq,” Silvis said in a court filing last week, CBS reports.

Under Monday’s order, immigration authorities are required to give the ACLU  bi-weekly updates about each Iraqi in ICE custody.

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