Key court hearing to determine fate of more than 100 Iraqi immigrants facing deportation

Dozens of immigrants detained by ICE agents during roundup in Metro Detroit


DETROIT – With the fate of more than 100 Iraqi immigrants hanging in the balance, a key hearing was held Wednesday in federal court.

A stay was ordered on the deportation of Iraqis rounded up around the country, but the 14-day period is running out. Both sides returned to court Wednesday to argue over jurisdiction in the case.

"The substantial allegations made here are the detainees face extreme, grave consequences (such as) death, persecution and torture," U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith said. "Such harm far outweighs any government interest the government may have in proceeding with the removals immediately."

Plaintiffs asked the judge to extend the stay of the deportation order while the question of jurisdiction is settled. The plaintiffs want the case heard in federal court as a class-action lawsuit.

If the case goes to immigration court, no class action is allowed.

The judge could extend the stay an additional two weeks or longer while the first legal question is solved.

READDozens detained by ICE agents in Detroit

Family members said those who were detained came to the U.S. legally. Some of them are married to U.S. citizens and have American-born children. Many of them, however, have prior convictions. Under President Trump's immigration policy, the country is cracking down on these immigrants and deporting them.

Hundreds of immigrants were arrested during the Immigration and Customs Enforcement roundup. They were taken to a detention center in Youngstown, Ohio, where they will remain during the 14-day period.

"As a result of recent negotiations between the U.S. and Iraq, Iraq has recently agreed to accept a number of Iraqi nationals subject to orders of removal," ICE said in a Monday morning statement. "As part of ICE's efforts to process the backlog of these individuals, the agency recently arrested a number of Iraqi nationals, all of whom had criminal convictions for crimes including homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses.

"Each of these individuals received full and fair immigration proceedings, after which a federal immigration judge found them ineligible for any form of relief under U.S. law and ordered them removed."

In some cases, people were approached at their homes. Families recorded their loved ones being taken away in cuffs. Many are Chaldean and immigrated to the U.S. from Iraq.

"There's a reason why we fled our country," said Zeinab Al-Badry, whose husband was also detained. "It's not to have fun in America, but to be safe."

"If you go to Iraq and pass by ISIS, they are going to get killed," said Junior Seiba, whose cousin was detained.

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