US Judge Halts Deportation of Over 100 Iraquis

144 Iraqis in Detroit have had their deportations temporarily delayed thanks to a humanitarian judge

Ever since the infamous 9th of November, immigrants to the United States of America – a name that’s becoming more sarcastic with every passing day – have feared deportation and rightfully so. Not two weeks ago the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrested over 200 Iraqi nationals who ‘have been the subject of deportation orders following criminal convictions or pending criminal charges’ (The Guardian, Iraqi Christians). 144 of these arrests took place in Detroit alone. Yet the deportations have not quite gone to plan for the Trump administration.

‘Judge Mark Goldsmith temporarily halted deportations while he considers a class-action lawsuit representing 114 Iraqis’ says The Guardian (Judge halts deportations). According to Aljazeera, Goldsmith has prolonged the deportation block until at least July 10. The reasons behind this action are primarily humanitarian. The majority of the 144 detainees are Chaldean Catholics and, as with other Christian groups, this has made them a target for persecution in Islamic states. Many of the detainees have gone so far as to claim they may face certain death if they return to their native land, a claim supported by the American Civil Liberties Union who have argued that ‘those being deported could face persecution, torture or death’ (Aljazeera). This has been further supported by groups such as the Minority Humanitarian Foundation who ‘planned to file a lawsuit with the American Civil Liberties Union to stop the deportation of Chaldeans to Iraq’ (The Guardian, Iraqi Chrsitians).

As a result, Goldsmith has been hailed as a hero from many Iraqi and humanitarian groups. Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project categorized the court’s action as ‘life-saving’ (NY Times) and Goldsmith himself stated that the potential physical harm to the detainees upon their return to Iraq ‘far outweighs any conceivable interest the government might have in the immediate enforcement of the removal orders’ (NY Times).

It is worth raising the question of the danger the detainees pose to American society. An ICE spokeswoman has gone on record claiming that an ‘overwhelming majority” of those arrested were convicted for crimes including “homicide, rape, aggravated assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, robbery, sex assault, weapons violations and other offenses’ (Guardian, Iraqi Christians). Yet it is also worth taking into account that the charges leveled against the detainees were many years ago and since they have ‘served their sentences for the crimes’ (The Guardian, Iraqi Christians). Potentially sentencing men and women to death over a crime committed years ago seems a poor level to stoop to, even for President Trump. We can only hope that Judge Goldsmith continues to defend those discriminated against by the Trump administration and to be – not just the hero they need – but also the one they deserve.



Holpuch, Amanda. “Judge Halts Deportation of More than 1,000 Iraqi Nationals from US.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 27 June 2017. Web.

Holpuch, Amanda. “Iraqi Christians targeted for deportation face ‘death sentence’ in Iraq, lawyers say.” The Guardian. The Guardian, 15 June 2017. Web.

US judge blocks deportation of Iraqis.” Aljazeera. Aljazeera, 27 June 2017. Web.

Associated Press. “Detroit Judge Halts Deportation of Iraqi Christians.” The New York Times. The New York Company, 22 June 2017. Web.

[One hundred and fourteen people were detained in Detroit alone, most of whom are members of Iraq’s Chaldean minority. Photograph: Todd McInturf/AP]


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