By: Zack Duvall
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a court order that halts the deportation of over 1,400 Iraqi nationals federal authorities had been seeking to return to Iraq.
The order by Goldsmith is a preliminary injunction and was requested by the American Civil Liberties Union in June. The ACLU had asked for the injunction by federal courts because they said the Iraqis are ethnic minorities and would be the victims of horrific violence by extremist groups active in the region, such as ISIS.
When making their arguments before the court, ACLU lawyers cited the fact that the Iraqis being deported are all Chaldean Catholics, Iraqi Kurds, or Sunni Muslims and are the main targets of what ISIS calls “ethnic cleansing”, which it says is nothing more than extreme violence meant to deter these groups from practicing their beliefs openly.
In a 34-page opinion the Judge sided with the ACLU, and issued an order that essentially prohibits the deportation of any Iraqi national for the next 3 months. Goldsmith said such an order was required in this case because of the challenge many of the detainees face in acquiring legal aid during proceedings.
The current case was brought about after the U.S. government resurrected deportation orders that had been shelved by the Obama administration in 2010, and on the heels of an earlier order by another judge in Michigan that granted a stay to 114 Iraqi nationals, living in the Detroit area, on the same legal grounds.
U.S. Judge Goldsmith had cited the earlier case in his decision and said that the extra time granted by his order was necessary so the immigrants have their “fair day” in U.S. courts.
“This ensures that those who might be subjected to grave harm and possible death are not cast out of this country before their day in court.” Goldsmith said in his decision.
The case has been the center of debate since the June filing by the ACLU, as the Trump administration had campaigned on making providing assistance to ethnic minorities in the Middle East, particularly Christian refugees, but also being tough on the number of refugees allowed to resettle in the U.S.
No word from federal officials as to if the U.S. government plans to file an appeal in the case.