Federal Judge Halts Deportation of Dozens of Iraqi Christians

Posted June 27, 2017

Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union representing the Iraqis in MI, said: "The court's action today was legally correct and may very well have saved numerous people from abuse and possible death".

An immigration spokesman reached Sunday says they are reviewing Goldsmith's order from last week, and intend to comply with it while "determining the appropriate next steps". After coming to the country as a 15-year-old, his brother said he fell in with the wrong crowd.

The Iraqi national deportation effort is the result of a March agreement with the Iraqi government in which the war-torn Middle Eastern nation agreed to take back Iraqi nationals subject to removal from the USA, according to Walls.

"The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq", said Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)'s Immigrants' Right Project who argued in court on behalf of the immigrants. She also argues that the detainees likely won't win their arguments before immigration courts.

The current 14-day stay applies to 114 Iraqi nationals who were arrested in Metro Detroit over the weekend of June 11.

Although many of those arrested were ordered removed to Iraq years ago, the government had allowed them to stay under orders of supervision, according to the lawsuit.

Najah Konja has a criminal record. "As part of ICE's efforts to process the backlog of these individuals, the agency recently arrested a number of Iraqi nationals, all of whom had criminal convictions for crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses", ICE said in a statement at the time. The city of Mosul, which is the largest Christian village in Iraq, was the first raided by ISIS. Nationwide, ICE has said, 1,444 Iraqi nationals are facing final orders for removal, though not all have been detained.

Dass said a lot of these people wear their Christian faith on their bodies in the form of tattoos, with scriptures on their wrists, or crosses on their forearms. "If you look up what they do to people in Mosul, it's insane".

Dass said he was surprised the Chaldeans were targeted as a week before Congress had passed a resolution recognizing there was a genocide underway against Chaldeans, the Syrian Christians, and Christians in Iraq.

But ACLU attorneys argued that forcing the Iraqi Christians they represent to return to their native land would place them in danger.

The Chaldean Catholic community in Detroit dates back to the early 20th century.

Protesters in front of the McNamara Federal Building in Detroit chant "Stop deportations, bring our families home" on June 14, 2017.