Update: On June 24, the ACLU of Michigan filed an amended complaint to turn the Michigan case into a nationwide class action on behalf of all Iraqi nationals who face deportation. Additionally, The ACLU of Michigan filed a motion asking the judge to extend his order nationwide in order to ensure that ICE does not deport individuals who will face persecution, torture or death in Iraq.
A federal court has blocked the immediate deportation of Iraqi nationals arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement earlier this month.
The American Civil Liberties Union, CODE Legal Aid, and the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center successfully sought the temporary restraining order, arguing those individuals should have an opportunity to prove their lives would be in danger if they were returned to Iraq.
“The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” said Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the case. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”
The ACLU challenged the government after ICE agents arrested more than 100 Iraqis —including many who’ve been in the U.S. for decades — in recent raids throughout metropolitan Detroit. Those arrested include Christians and Muslims, all at risk of persecution in Iraq.
“We are thankful and relieved that our clients will not be immediately sent to Iraq, where they face grave danger of persecution, torture or death. It would be unconstitutional and unconscionable to deport these individuals without giving them an opportunity to demonstrate the harm that awaits them in Iraq,” said Michael Steinberg, legal director of the ACLU of Michigan.
The judge ruled that given the “significant chance of loss of life” and other types of persecution faced by the ACLU clients, he was going to temporarily halt the deportation for 14 days while he considers whether to take further action.
The case was argued in the U.S. District Court/Eastern Michigan District.