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Department for Homeland Security
World News

Detroit judge halts deportations of Iraqi Christians

by Eno Adeogun

US District Judge Mark Goldsmith had already issued a 14 day stay of removal on June 22nd for at least 114 mostly Christian Iraqis detained in the Detroit area, saying he needed time to work out whether he has jurisdiction over the case.

He has also protected Iraqi immigrants that could possibly face persecution, torture or death if the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) deported them by extending the order nationwide, following a request from lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union and other immigrant rights advocates.

In his written decision, Goldsmith said: "Such harm far outweighs any interest the government may have in proceeding with the removals immediately."

The new order applies to more than 1,400 Iraqi immigrants who have been issued final orders of removal, either for overstaying a visa or because of a criminal conviction.

The US Department for Homeland Security had said the Chaldean Christians who were arrested had criminal convictions for offences including murder, rape and assault.

Khaalid Walls, a spokesman for the ICE field office in Detroit said the high number of deportations followed an agreement reached with Iraq in March to take back its nationals.

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US Longtime demographer Kurt Metzger estimates around 12,000 live in or near the Detroit area. Many fled their war-torn homeland decades ago and fear persecution by extremist groups like IS if they return.

Attorneys for the government said they would exam the judge's ruling before deciding their next steps.

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