US judge halts deportation of over 100 Iraqi Christians
Washington: A federal US judge has temporarily blocked the deportation of over 100 Iraqi Christians who might face death or persecution if returned to their birth country.
Attorneys argued that the 114 Iraqis mostly Chaldean Christians, who were picked up during a series of raids in Detroit by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (Ice) would face persecution in their homeland if returned.
Judge Mark Goldsmith said that in an order on Thursday that those arrested would not be deported for at least two weeks. At the end of that period, he would make a new ruling.
The judge's order applied to all Iraqi nationals within the jurisdiction of the Detroit Ice field office with final orders of removal, who have been, or will be, arrested and detained by Ice, including those detained in Michigan and transferred outside of Michigan to other detention locations.
Those arrested were subject to deportation orders and had criminal convictions or pending criminal charges.
But the attorneys challenged whether it was fair to return this population to Iraq, where Islamic State (IS) and other jihadist terror groups have targeted Chaldeans and other Christian groups.
In a class action lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union against the local Ice field office, attorneys said most of these people had lived in the US for decades.