Judge Orders Release of Detained Iraqis

On Tuesday, a federal judge ordered the US government to either release or give bond hearings to the Iraqi immigrants arrested in 2017. Hundreds of immigrants from Iraq, whose prior criminal convictions made them eligible for deportation for years, were detained by the federal government last year.

Until recently, Iraq had refused to repatriate the immigrants, but in March 2017 they reached a deal with the US to take back their citizens, resulting in immigration sweeps across the country. The federal government was then sued by both the immigrants and civil rights groups. Detroit-based US District Judge, Mark Goldsmith, who has previously halted the Iraqis’ deportation, said that many would face persecution due to their Christian beliefs if they were forced to return to their home country.

Goldsmith ruled on Tuesday that any Iraqi immigrants who had been held in detention for six months or more need to be either set free or given a bond hearing in front of an immigration judge within no later than 30 days. He said that the legal tradition of the US rejects holding human beings’ prisoner while awaiting a determination of their legal rights.

The Trump administration has attempted to have the Iraqi immigrants deported as part of the effort to increase immigration enforcement and to force previously reluctant nations to take back citizens that the US has ordered to be deported. Immigration officers have detained around 300 Iraqi citizens since June 2017.