U.S. judge asked to expand order blocking Iraqis' deportation

Reuters News
|
Posted: Jun 24, 2017 8:50 PM

(Reuters) - The American Civil Liberties Union asked a U.S. judge on Saturday to expand an order that temporarily blocks the deportation of 114 Iraqis in Michigan to cover Iraqis nationwide, according to a court filing.

The advocacy group filed an amended complaint seeking to keep Immigration and Customs Enforcement from deporting Iraqis from anywhere in the United States while a federal judge weighs the case of the Iraqis in Michigan.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith on Thursday ordered a stay in the Michigan Iraqis' deportation for at least two weeks while he decides whether he has jurisdiction.

The ACLU, which had sued to block the Michigan deportations, asked Goldsmith to rule by Monday on expanding his order to cover the more than 1,400 Iraqis facing expulsion across the United States. The immigration agency has indicated it might start those deportations as soon as Tuesday, the ACLU said.

Those being deported could face persecution or torture because many are Chaldean Catholics or Iraqi Kurds, "both groups who are widely recognized as targets of brutal persecution in Iraq," the civil rights group said in its filing.

The ACLU also filed a motion asking the judge to extend his order nationwide to ensure that people who could face persecution, torture or death in Iraq are not deported.

Spokesmen for the Department of Justice and Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not respond to requests for comment.

The Michigan arrests were part of a sweep by immigration authorities who detained about 199 Iraqi immigrants around the country. They had final deportation orders and convictions for serious crimes.

The roundup followed Iraq's agreement to accept deportees as part of a deal that removed the country from President Donald Trump's revised temporary travel ban.

The U.S. government has argued that the district court does not have jurisdiction over the case since only immigration courts can decide deportation issues.

(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)