The ACLU sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement in June 2017 after ICE agents arrested more than 100 Iraqis — including many who’ve been in the U.S. for decades — in raids throughout metropolitan Detroit.

The Petitioners argued that if returned to Iraq, they face persecution, torture or death, and that they therefore cannot be deported before they have a chance to present their claims to an immigration judge. Nationwide, some 1400 Iraqis with old removal orders could be affected by the case.

On July 24, 2017, a federal court granted the ACLU’s request for a nationwide preliminary injunction; the court stayed the removal of all Iraqi nationals in the U.S. who had final orders of removal on June 24, 2017 and who have been or will be detained by ICE. The injunction gives class members three months to file a motion to reopen in the immigration courts, so that their cases can be decided on an individual basis. The three month period starts when the government provides class members with copies of their immigration files and records that are necessary to properly litigate relief in immigration court. The stay of deportation continues while the individual’s immigration case works its way through the immigration court system, including the appeals process.

Because ICE continued to detain many class members without bond hearings while they fight their immigration cases, the ACLU filed a second preliminary injunction motion in November 2017 arguing that the Constitution forbids detention without an individualized bond hearing to determine if detention is necessary. On January 2, 2018, Judge Goldsmith held that the detainees should receive individualized bond hearings, explaining that “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.” Most of those bond hearings have now been held, and about half of the detainees have returned home.

The government has appealed both the district court’s order staying removal to Iraq and the order prohibiting prolonged detention without a bond hearing. Oral arguments in the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals are set for April 25, 2018.

Further resources for Iraqi nationals seeking relief from removal in the immigration courts can be found here.

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