Wednesday, Jan 22, 2020

U.S. Court Ruling Renews Iraqi Christians’ Deportation Fears

Lead plaintiff wins permission to stay while others could be redetained as soon as next month.

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The Iraqi Christian at the center of a class-action suit challenging the detention of fellow Iraqi nationals in the Detroit area was granted a major victory in court Tuesday and will be allowed to stay in the US and become a citizen.

The decision in favor of Sam Hamama comes days after a legal setback for hundreds of others who had been detained by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and released more than a year ago so they could litigate their individual cases.

Last Friday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the classwide decision freeing the Iraqis from detention, potentially leading to redetainment and a renewed threat of deportation.

“The whole point of the federal litigation was to give people time to fight their individual immigration cases,” Margo Schlanger, one of the lead counsels in the case, told CT. “Hundreds of people assisted by the class action have done that, and, while some have lost, lots of them have won. For many others, the individual immigration cases are still pending. So Sam’s victory is one of many, we’re happy to say.”

In 2017, more than 1,400 Iraqis living in the United States, most of whom had either overstayed visas or have criminal convictions, were living under “final removal orders” that made them targets for deportation. Hundreds of these Iraqi nationals were rounded up in ICE raids and held in detention facilities meant to house them until they could be deported.

The move was part of a policy shift spurred by the Trump administration’s travel ban, as Iraq agreed to begin accepting deportees in exchange for being removed from the list of banned countries.

But the process faced a major obstacle. America has committed itself …

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