Judge Orders Release of Iraqis Facing Indefinite Detention

DETROIT (CN) – A federal judge ordered the release Tuesday of more than 100 Iraqi nationals who have been languishing for months in immigration-detention facilities.

“Our legal tradition rejects warehousing human beings while their legal rights are being determined, without an opportunity to persuade a judge that the norm of monitored freedom should be followed,” the blistering 46-page opinion by U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith states.

Goldsmith’s ruling comes nearly six months after he determined that the rounded-up immigrants must be given a hearing before they can be deported.

“While that immigration court process proceeds apace, the aliens who were arrested have now languished in detention facilities — many for over six months — deprived of the intimacy of their families, the fellowship of their communities, and the economic opportunity to provide for themselves and their loved ones,” Goldsmith wrote Tuesday. “Detention may stretch into years, as the immigration court proceedings and subsequent appeals wind their way to a conclusion.”

Led by Usama Hamama, the immigrants in question are among more than 199 that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has arrested since May.

Though ICE officials say most of these individuals “have very serious felony convictions, multiple felony convictions in many cases,” Hamama and the other challengers note that their lives would be in danger if deported back to Iraq because of their religious beliefs. While many of the plaintiffs identify as Chaldean Christians, others belong to oppressed Muslim sects. In their bid to have the immigrants released on bond, attorneys at the American Civil Liberties Union that many of the immigrants in question have lived in the United States for decades.

Goldsmith’s ruling covers all Iraqi nationals being detained by the United States who had final orders of removal at any point between March 1, 2017, and June 24, 2017.

Unless the immigration court holds the required bond hearings, ICE have until Feb. 2, 2018, to release these individuals.

The parties have a conference scheduled for Jan. 11.

ICE spokesman Khaalid Walls said they are reviewing the order “to determine the path forward.”

“ICE is deeply disturbed by the decision, but will comply with the decision unless and until it is reversed by an appellate court,” Walls added.

The American Civil Liberties Union has not responded to an email seeking comment.

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