District Judge, Mark Goldsmith, has extended the stay on the deportation of every Iraqi national taken into custody during recent immigration sweeps in the US until at least 24 July. It had been set to expire on Monday.
Goldsmith says that an extension of the stay, sought by the American Civil Liberties Union, has good cause. This is because the ACLU claims those arrested in last month’s immigration enforcement operations, primarily in Tennessee and Michigan, are likely to face torture, persecution, and even death if they are sent back to Iraq. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have arrested 199 Iraqi nationals since May. According to ICE press secretary, Gillian Christensen, 114 of the arrests were in Detroit.
Over half of those arrested are Iraqi Chaldean Christians, who believe they will be killed if returned to their home country. A large number have lived in the US for so long that they cannot now speak Arabic, according to immigration activists and lawyers. Several of the immigrants have prior convictions for crimes such as assault, murder, drug trafficking, rape, and burglary. Often, the sentences for such crimes were served a quarter of a century ago. Others facing deportation were minors when they arrived in the US.
The stay will protect 1444 Iraqi nationals. They will now have the chance to state their case in front of an immigration judge on why they should be given permission to remain in the US.