US judge extends stay protecting Iraqis facing deportation

US judge extends stay protecting Iraqis facing deportation
A US judge has halted the deportation of hundreds of Iraqi nationals for another two weeks as attorneys argue they could face religious persecution if sent home.
2 min read
09 July, 2017
The crackdown on Iraqi immigrants could see Iraq removed from Trump's travel ban [Getty]
A US judge has halted the deportation of all Iraqi nationals detained during recent immigration sweeps across the United States until at least July 24, extending a stay that was originally set to expire on Monday.

US District Judge Mark Goldsmith in Detroit said there was "good cause" to extend the stay, which was sought by the American Civil Liberties Union.

The ACLU says those arrested in immigration enforcement operations last month mostly in Michigan and Tennessee face persecution, torture or death if they are deported to Iraq.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has arrested 199 Iraqi nationals since May; 114 of them from Detroit, according to the agency's press secretary Gillian Christensen.

Over half of those targeted in the immigration sweeps are Iraqi Chaldean Christians who fear they will be killed if returned back to Iraq.

Many have lived in the US so long that they no longer speak Arabic, immigration lawyers and activists say.

Some of those arrested in recent weeks had criminal convictions for crimes including assault, rape, murder, burglary, drug trafficking, and other offenses.

But many of those facing deportation came to the United States as children and have already served sentences for their crimes, some of which were committed over 25 years ago.

While the stay is in place, a total of 1,444 Iraqi nationals who have final orders of removal, are able to take their case before an immigration court judge and argue why they believe they should be allowed to stay in the US.

The massive crackdown on Iraqi immigrants came as part of a deal which would see Iraq removed from a list of countries included in Donald Trump's travel ban in return for accepting deportees.

Since the agreement was reached with Iraq in March, eight Iraqi nationals have been deported.