Deportation of 1,400 Iraqis Blocked by US Federal Judge

On the 24th of July, a federal judge released an immigration order that blocks the deportation of about 1,400 Iraqis, ruling that the US government made a sneak-attack against them and that they should at least receive the chance to reargue on their deportation cases. Many of the Iraqis involved have serious criminal records, some of them involving murder.

Mark A. Goldsmith is the judge involved and was appointed to the federal bench by former US president Barrack Obama. Mr. Goldsmith took the side of the mainly Chaldean Christian immigrants and said that they were afraid of the persecution which could be waiting for them once they fall back into the hands of the Muslim government and the insurgents of the Islamic State if they are to be forced to return to their home countries.

The judge agreed with them, arguing that the consequences could turn out to be “lethal”, and said that if the US government deports them to Baghdad, a city which is currently under the control of the US government, “the ever-shifting fortunes of the war” could make the Iraqis end up in a territory controlled by the Islamic State after a certain period of time.

Mr. Goldsmith wrote: “Each Petitioner faces the risk of torture or death on the basis of residence in America and publicized criminal records; many will also face persecution as a result of a particular religious affiliation”.

Trump’s immigration actions blocked by judges in the past

With this decision, Judge Goldsmith becomes the latest Democratic-appointed judge that blocks immigration actions taken by the Trump administration, in a series of judges who have shortened Trump’s crackdown on sanctuary cities, attempted to stop the temporary travel ban and refugee pause and prevented the president from eliminating the DACA deportation amnesty status from one illegal migrant.

However, the new ruling carves out new ground.

According to the federal law, legal cases regarding immigration must be heard in immigration courts and can be appealed to circuit courts. Judges from district courts are not supposed to questions the decisions reached.

Meanwhile, Mr. Goldsmith claimed that in cases that involve the possibility of severe rights violation, judges must step in. He also said that the law which prevents them from doing it is unconstitutional.

The deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, Ms. Judy Rabinovitz said that “this ruling continues to block the government from recklessly sending these individuals into harm’s way. The court’s action could literally save lives”.

Criminal records leading to immigration actions

In almost every case, the Iraqis involved have criminal records. Charges brought against them go all the way to rape and even murder.

The immigrants have completed their sentences and were supposed to be deported, some of them decades ago, but have remained in the United States due to the fact that Iraq hindered deportations until earlier this year.

After an agreement was reached in March 2017 by the US presidential administration, deportation continued, and agents from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) started to look for immigrants who had been released because they couldn’t be deported.

The immigrants argue that because of Iraq’s refusal of deportees, they were never actually afraid of deportation so they haven’t challenged the removal orders. With deportation being seen now as a real danger, the immigrants think that they should get another chance in court.

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