Following an ICE sweep of Iraqi nationals for the purpose of deportation, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a preliminary injunction Monday that allows the detainees months longer in the U.S., giving them an opportunity to fight immigration cases in court, according to Reuters.
A previous temporary halt granted by Goldsmith was to expire Monday at 11:59 p.m. On that day he issued the latest order, “that those who might be subjected to grave harm and possible death are not cast out of this country before having their day in court," he said.
He spoke out against the government's objection to his injunction in a 34-page opinion, saying, "That legal effort has, in turn, been significantly impeded by the Government's successive transfers of many detainees across the country, separating them from their lawyers and the families and communities who can assist in those legal efforts."
ICE transferred some of the detainees to different parts of the country -- many of the 114 detainees from Detroit to Youngstown, Ohio -- making it difficult for them to get legal help back home.
He also wrote, "Without warning, over 1,400 Iraqi nationals discovered that their removal orders -- many of which had lain dormant for several years -- were now to be immediately enforced, following an agreement reached between the United States and Iraq to facilitate removal. This abrupt change triggered a feverish search for legal assistance to assert rights against the removal of persons confronting the grisly fate petitioners face if deported to Iraq."
The 1,444 Iraqi nationals have final deportation orders that have been ignored for years. The sweep was unexpected for the Iraqi nationals, many of whom supported Donald Trump in the 2016 elections for his pro-life views and his support of persecuted Christians.
The halt follows a lawsuit issued in June by ACLU that argues the Iraqis, many of them Chaldeans and other religious minorities, are in danger of persecution in Iraq, a declared genocide zone.
Sheila McNulty, an assistant chief immigration judge overseeing Detroit among other courts, wrote in court documents, "The Detroit Immigration Court has engaged in extensive efforts to timely adjudicate and rule on motions to reopen and stay motions in response to the influx of motions filed by detained Iraqi nationals."
Only around 200 of the nationals were actually detained in the June sweep, which followed the agreement between the U.S. and Iraq lifting a travel ban and allowing Iraqi nationals to be returned. Many of the nationals have spent most of their lives here and do not know Arabic.
In a statement made by Rebecca Adducci, field office director of ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations Detroit, she said, "The operation in this region was specifically conducted to address the very real public safety threat represented by the criminal aliens arrested."
All the Iraqi immigrants under orders of deportation have criminal records, costing them green cards or visas. ICE released a statement listing offenses from assault and homicide to burglary and drug trafficking. Adducci continued that most of those from the Detroit area have serious, and multiple, felony convictions. Relatives and attorneys representing the detained Iraqis argue they have served their time and are not fugitives.
According to Clarence Dass, an attorney representing a number of the detainees from Michigan, they will have 90 days. He said, "For people who have been learning their fate every two weeks, 90 days is a lifetime." He continued that they seek to show in that time the grave danger of deportation to Iraq, hoping that the lives of the Iraqi nationals will be saved.