Lawyers for Iraqi nationals who are set to be removed from the U.S. have asked a federal judge to extend his temporary deportation freeze to all illegal immigrants from Iraq, saying that the country is too dangerous for returning citizens.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith heard arguments Monday from attorneys from the American Civil Liberties Union and other immigrant rights groups, who claim that their clients face persecution, torture or death in Iraq.
“It’s never been U.S. policy to send people back where they could be persecuted,” said Nadine Yousif Kalasho, an attorney for Michigan-based nonprofit Code Legal Aid.
Goldsmith issued the original freeze Thursday, granting a 14-day stay of deportation for 114 Iraqi nationals who were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) earlier in June. He said he wan’t sure of the jurisdictional issues in the “unusual” case and granted the short-term stay to give himself more time to decide the matter.
The ACLU now wants Goldsmith to apply the suspension to all Iraqis who have been ordered to leave the U.S., the Associated Press reported. Attorneys say a suspension of removals is needed so that illegal aliens from Iraq have time to appeal their cases in immigration court before they are deported.
“They need enough time to file those petitions to reopen,” ACLU attorney Margo Schlanger said. “It’s the government that is hurrying these people toward deportation.”
There are about 1,400 Iraqis in the U.S with final orders of removal, according to federal immigration officials. The initiation of deportation proceedings against the Iraqis, many of whom are Chaldean Christians, drew protest from Trump administration critics and immigration activists who say that deportation to Iraq amounts to a “death sentence.” (RELATED: Liberals Flip Out Over Iraqi Christian Deportations, Overlook Policy Change)
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