US judge halts deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqi nationals

Protesters rally outside the federal court just before a hearing to consider a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of Iraqi nationals facing deportation, in Detroit, Michigan, US on June 21, 2017.
Protesters rally outside the federal court just before a hearing to consider a class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of Iraqi nationals facing deportation, in Detroit, Michigan, US on June 21, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

DETROIT (REUTERS) - A federal judge in Michigan on Monday (July 24) halted the deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqi nationals detained during immigration sweeps across the United States last month, the latest legal victory for the detainees in a closely watched case.

US District Judge Mark Goldsmith granted a preliminary injunction requested by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, who argued the immigrants would face persecution in Iraq because they are considered ethnic and religious minorities there.

Judge Goldsmith said the injunction provides detainees time to challenge their removal in federal courts.

He said many of them faced "a feverish search for legal assistance" after their deportation orders were unexpectedly resurrected by the US government after several years.

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The extra time assures "that those who might be subjected to grave harm and possible death are not cast out of this country before having their day in court", he wrote in his 34-page opinion and order.