The US District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan [official website] on Thursday temporarily blocked [opinion, PDF] the deportation of over 100 Iraq nationals, arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, for approximately two weeks during which time the court will decide whether it has jurisdiction in the matter.Judge Mark Goldsmith, who issued the order staying the deportation, stated that it is not immediately clear whether the Iraq nationals will succeed in this action. Nevertheless, Goldsmith concluded that a proper consideration of various factors “counsels issuing a stay:”
Irreparable harm is made out by the significant chance of loss of life and lesser forms of persecution that Petitioners have substantiated. Such harm far outweighs any conceivable interest the Government might have in the immediate enforcement of the removal orders, before this Court can clarify whether it has jurisdiction to grant relief to Petitioners on the merits of their claims. The public interest is also better served by an orderly court process that assures that Petitioners’ invocation of federal court relief is considered before the removal process continues. Finally, it is true that the likelihood of success on the merits – whether defined as winning the jurisdiction issue or the right to modification of the removal orders – cannot yet be determined. But no one factor is dispositive; rather, all factors are to be balanced.
Many of the Iraq nationals facing deportation are facing orders of removal, some of which are decades old, after being convicted of various crimes. This action was filed on behalf of these nationals by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) [advocacy website], and arose as a habeas corpus class action petition. ACLU stated of the order: “We are thankful and relieved that our clients will not be immediately sent to Iraq, where they face grave danger of persecution, torture or death … The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq.”
Many of the individuals facing deportation include both Muslims and Christians from Iraq, who have been in the US for decades and had been allowed to stay because the Iraq government would not issue [Reuters report] them travel documents. That changed in March when Iraq began to allow deportees in exchange [NPR report] for President Donald Trump‘s [official profile] removal of Iraq from the list of banned countries. The controversy surrounding immigration enforcement and Trump’s immigration orders continues to rise. Last week the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website] announced [JURIST report] that it will keep the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) [materials] program in place for the foreseeable future. DACA allows for immigrants who came to the US as children, known as “Dreamers,” to obtain work permits and remain in the country legally. This move is contradictory to President Donald Trump 2016 campaign promise to repeal DACA and DAPA. Earlier the same week the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit [official website] ruled [JURIST report] against the majority of President Donald Trump’s revised executive order limiting travel from six Muslim-majority countries. The ruling affirmed the majority of a district court injunction [JURIST report] in March that blocked the order from being enforced. In April, Massachusetts petitioned [JURIST report] its Supreme Judicial Court [official website] to find that state authorities lack jurisdiction to detain [JURIST report] illegal immigrants. Many cities [JURIST op-ed] and states [JURIST report] have also been enacting sanctuary laws to protect undocumented immigrants, particularly children and students.