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Iraqi Christians in Detroit get three-month stay from deportation


Carlos Osorio | AP Photo

John Burger - published on 07/25/17

Judge gives them a chance to argue their cases in immigration court

The hundreds of Iraqi Christians who have been ordered out of the United States have been given another chance.

U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith in Detroit on Monday temporarily halted the deportations that were ordered in June. Goldsmith had already blocked the deportations for a shorter period, but that suspension ended Monday, according to Fides News Agency.

The new injunction will allow the Iraqis to stay in the U.S. while they try to persuade immigration courts to overturn the deportations based on risks back in their native country, according to CBS News. The immigrants, especially those who are Christian, fear being subjected to violence and persecution once back in Iraq.

“Each petitioner faces the risk of torture or death on the basis of residence in America and publicized criminal records,” Goldsmith wrote in his injunction. “Many will also face persecution as a result of a particular religious affiliation.”

The judge declared that the constitutional rights of Iraqi immigrants, many of whom have long been resident in the United States, have been violated, and that guarantees for the protection of fundamental freedoms can be suspended only in rare cases of foreign invasion or internal insurgence.

The U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement began rounding up Iraqi immigrants who have standing deportation orders against them on June 12. The operation was implemented after Iraq agreed to take back deported Iraqi citizens in exchange for being removed from a list of seven Muslim-majority nations from whhich immigration would be temporarily suspended: the so-called “Muslim ban” promised by President Donald J. Trump during his presidential campaign. There are now about 230 in custody. Most of them are Chaldean Christians who have lived in the Detroit area for years.  Some of the arrested Christians had criminal records. Goldsmith also pointed out that the criminal and judicial cases weighing on many of the Iraqis threatened with deportation were actually “dormant” cases.

There are another 1200 immigrants who were not arrested but could be rounded up at any time.

Iraqi immigrants, at risk of deportation, have three months to arrange their legal strategy with their lawyers to render ineffective the expulsion orders issued by the ICE.

Chaldean Patriarch Louis Raphael Sako weighed in on the case, according to Fides. In a letter to Chaldean Bishop Frank Kalabat, head of the Eparchy of St Thomas the Apostle in Detroit, the Baghdad-based patriarch expressed solidarity and closeness to families affected by the threat of deportationJ.

Christians in the Middle East
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