The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has asked a Detroit federal judge to force the release of around 1400 Iraqis, held in detention for almost five months by immigration authorities as they fight to avoid deportation back to a home country where they claim to face torture.
In July, a judge declared that they could not be sent back to Iraq en masse. This undermined an important aspect of an accord between the US and Iraq, in which the government of the latter agreed that it would repatriate them as part of a negotiated deal to drop Iraq from the list of countries in the travel ban designed by President Donald Trump. The ACLU says that, despite the detainees’ individual appeals likely to be successful, Immigration and Customs Enforcement continue to refuse to release them.
The ACLU says that those in the immigration process should not be detained unless there is a real likelihood of a quick deportation. Immigration authorities targeted the Iraqis, who are a mixture of Christians and Muslims from Detroit, as they were deemed to be eligible for deportation for overstaying their US visas or having criminal convictions.
The senior staff attorney of the Michigan branch of the ACLU, Miriam Aukerman, said that the Iraqi immigrants have been living and working in communities for decades in some instances and that it is unacceptable to prevent them being with their families and working when the legal system could take years to decide their cases.