DETROIT, M.I.—Yesterday, January 2, 2017, a federal court ruled that nearly 300 Iraqi nationals who have been detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) will have an opportunity to be released.
U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled that when Iraqis in the case have been detained for more than six months, they are entitled to go before an immigration judge and present evidence showing they should be released from detention.
In June 2017, the ACLU of New Mexico joined a lawsuit to stop the deportation of longtime New Mexico resident Abbas Oda Manshad Al-Sokaini. Abbas was detained by ICE in June 2017 after Iraq agreed to accept deportees from the United States. He has been in ICE custody in El Paso since then.
Then, in July 2017, Judge Goldsmith halted the deportation of him and over 1,400 others because of the danger they could face in Iraq. However, almost all have been in detention since then. Yesterday’s ruling requires release of nearly all the detainees by February 2, 2018 unless an immigration judge finds clear and convincing evidence that a particular individual is either a flight risk or a public safety risk.
The detainees and their families, working with their immigration attorneys, will now need to request a hearing with the immigration court, where they can present evidence on their work history, family relationships, and community ties. The immigration court will then decide on release and bond.
“After six months of unnecessarily languishing in detention, we’re glad that Abbas and the hundreds of other Iraqi nationals will be finally allowed the opportunity for release. All of these detainees belong at home with their families, and with this ruling they are that much closer,” said Kristin Love, staff attorney with the ACLU of New Mexico.