Detroit judge halts deportation of Iraqi Christians

A USA judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the deportation of about 100 Iraqi nationals rounded up in MI in recent weeks who argued that they could face persecution or torture in Iraq because they are religious minorities. "Iraqi Christians have formally been designated by the United States as victims of 'genocide.' They and other named minorities of that declaration should be welcomed to this country".

"We are thankful and relieved that our clients will not be immediately be sent to Iraq, where they face grave danger of persecution, torture or death", the ACLU statement continues. Less than two weeks ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents arrested 114 Iraqis in MI, a crackdown the government defended by arguing that the detainees had criminal pasts and were a threat to the public.

The ACLU noted that numerous detainees did not have legal representation, and the government made it more hard for them to get legal help by dispersing them to facilities in other states.

Some of those affected came to the USA as children and committed their crimes decades ago, but they had been allowed to stay because Iraq previously declined to issue travel documents for them. The convicted have served their time and have become productive members of society on whom their families depend, they say.

Iraq reversed its longstanding policy on the travel documents earlier this year as part of negotiations with the White House to remove the country from President Donald Trump's controversial travel ban that targeted the residents of six Muslim-majority countries.

The law argues that "no court shall have jurisdiction to hear any cause or claim by or on behalf of any alien arising from the decision or commence proceedings, adjudicate cases, or execute removal orders against any alien".

ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen noted that most of the detainees had previous criminal convictions ranging from burglary to murder.

The American Civil Liberties filed an emergency motion seeking a temporary restraining order to halt the removals, as deportations were scheduled to start June 28, according to attorneys for the Iraqis. Then he was detained on June 11.

"We had no hope yesterday, but now our hopes are getting in the right direction", Konja told CNN. "If they can't stand up for the people who already made it here, then how can they stand up for the ones in the Middle East?"

Russell Moore of the Southern Baptist Convention says many evangelical Christians and Catholics are "deeply concerned about the possible return of Chaldean Christians to the Middle East, knowing this would essentially be a death sentence".

Najah owns a tobacco shop in the Detroit area.

  • Salvatore Jensen