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Ann Mullen, 313-400-8562,

June 5, 2024

The seven-year legal battle protected many Iraqi nationals from family separation, needless detention, deportation, and possible torture or death.


DETROIT, Mich. – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan took the first step towards approval of a proposed settlement agreement in the nationwide class action lawsuit, Hamama v. Adducci, on behalf of some 1400 Iraqis, many of whom U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) had arrested without warning and threatened with immediate deportation. The proposed settlement ensures that Iraqis will not be indefinitely detained. It also protects Iraqis with old removal orders from being arrested and held in detention simply because they seek to regularize their immigration status.

“Too often, immigrants are locked up for months or years for absolutely no reason other than they want what so many of us have already, the chance to build a life in America,” said Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan. “The proposed settlement will help prevent the needless detention of people fighting to stay with their families and remain in their communities, rather than being removed to Iraq, where they may face persecution, torture, or even death.”

In 2017, the ACLU sued the federal government because ICE began arresting Iraqi nationals and intended to deport them immediately to Iraq. Most had been living in the United States for decades, but were previously ordered deported, either for technical immigration violations or for past convictions. Because the Iraqi government had long refused to issue travel documents for potential deportees, the United States has been unable to deport them. But in 2017, ICE arrested hundreds of Iraqis with old removal orders, hoping to deport them.

The ACLU argued that deporting Iraqis could result in possible harm including torture and death, and asked the court that they be allowed time to reopen their immigration cases based on the changed country conditions or legal developments in the decades since their cases were decided. The court granted this relief in 2017. However, because ICE continued to hold hundreds of Iraqis in detention, the ACLU returned to court and obtained orders in 2018 requiring that detention be individually assessed at a bond hearing, and requiring release of those detained longer than six months.

Although the federal government successfully appealed the courts’ rulings, the class action lawsuit enabled hundreds of Iraqis to be released from detention to be with their families while pursuing their immigration cases. Many have been granted asylum or legal residence, and some, like the lead plaintiff Sam Hamama, are now U.S. citizens.

“It is time to close this case and provide our immigrant population with a clear and fair process for staying in this country,” said Mr. Hamama. “Everyone deserves a chance to live out their American Dream. In November of 2020, I became a proud citizen of the United States of America. Today, I am still in southeastern Michigan running my family business and appreciating every day that I have with my wife and my four beautiful children.”

“This case has always been about every person getting their day in court, which is one of the principles at the cornerstone of our democracy. This settlement agreement furthers that goal,” said Kimberly Scott, Miller Canfield principal and class counsel.

The proposed settlement agreement requires court approval. The court has set a hearing for July 31, 2024.

The lawsuit, Hamama v. Adducci, was filed against ICE, the Department of Homeland Security, and the U.S. attorney general in the U.S. District Court/Eastern Michigan District. In addition to the ACLU, the nationwide class-action lawsuit was brought by the law firm Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone, Professor Margo Schlanger, CODE Legal Aid, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, and International Refugee Assistance Project.

Read the proposed settlement agreement here

Read the motion for approval of the settlement agreement here.

The Hamama v. Adducci case can be found here and more information about the settlement can be found here