US judge says Trump administration lied to deport Iraqis

US judge says Trump administration lied to deport Iraqis
The Trump administration made "false declarations" that made it appear repatriation to Iraq was likely, therefore allowing Iraqi detainees to remain behind bars.
2 min read
21 November, 2018
More than 100 Iraqis were detained awaiting deportation [Getty]
The Trump administration lied to keep more than 100 Iraqis locked up in efforts to deport them, a US judge ruled as he ordered them to be released.

Dozens of Iraqis were detained in 2017 as part of a government clampdown on immigration and a push for deportations.

Judge Mark Goldsmith of the Eastern District of Michigan said the government acted "ignobly" and made "demonstrably false" statements about Iraq's willingness to accept reptriations, which kept the prisoners behind bars - some of whom for longer than a year.

The government submitted information to make it appear repatriation to Iraq was likely, however evidence in the case found that Baghdad had backed out of accepting its citizens.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials concluded in July 2017 that Iraq was "among the most recalcitrant countries" for accepting deported nationals.

Despite the statement and lobbying by American diplomats in Baghdad, an ICE official on 20 July 2017 signed a court declaration that Iraq was willing to receive deportees.

"The government has acted ignobly in this case, by failing to comply with court orders, submitting demonstrably false declarations of Government officials, and otherwise violating its litigation obligations," Goldsmith wrote. "Families have been shattered."

Under federal law, the government cannot indefinitely detain foreign nationals while looking to deport them, when "there is no significant likelihood of repatriation in the reasonably foreseeable future," Goldsmith said.

Goldsmith has given the US government 30 days to release the detainees, who had been ordered deported years or decades ago because of criminal offences but had been allowed to live in the United States. One Iraqi man had been detained since January 2017.

Sanctions would be imposed on the government over the case, Goldsmith said, though he said he would formally address that in a separate order.

The Department of Justice did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the ruling, Reuters reported.

American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan represented the Iraqis in the case.