Judge Goldsmith Grants Stay to Iraqi Detainees

Posted: Jul 13, 2017 7:00 AM

Judge Mark Goldsmith of the Eastern District of Michigan has halted the deportation of Iraqi immigrants Tuesday. The courts are reviewing the orders of removal.

Judge Goldsmith first halted the deportation on June 22 while considering whether ordering a stay was within his jurisdiction.The temporary stay was granted first to the 114 detainees, many of them Chaldean, from Detroit before extending nationwide and was to last two weeks.

While the Department of Justice thinks that the case should go to federal immigration courts--not the district court--Goldsmith argues that “extraordinary circumstances” would not allow the Iraqi nationals the right of habeas corpus without the action of the district court.

The case by Judge Goldsmith stated, “This Court concludes that to enforce the Congressional mandate that district courts lack jurisdiction – despite the compelling context of this case – would expose Petitioners to the substantiated risk of death, torture, or other grave persecution before their legal claims can be tested in a court. That would effectively suspend the writ of habeas corpus, which the Constitution prohibits.”

Referring to the Convention Against Torture, a petition submitted by attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union reads, “Under the CAT, an individual may not be removed if  ‘it is more likely than not that [the individual] would be tortured if removed to the proposed country of removal.’”

According to the petition, the immigrants are "eligible for asylum" if they can prove that they have a 10 percent chance of persecution upon returning to Iraq. There is more than a 50 percent chance of persecution for the Iraqis, the petition says, since many are Christian or other religious minorities.

The halt gives the immigrants time to reopen cases with the court. Haydar Butris, one of the detainees, may be granted a new trial in light of a drug conviction. In 1998, he was caught in possession of eight pounds of marijuana. While the circuit court judge, Martha Anderson, would not dismiss the sentence, she is considering giving him a hearing.

The stay is granted till July 24, according to the Detroit News.

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