A federal judge issued a temporary stay on Thursday for more than 100 Iraqi nationals, including Christians, who were arrested during immigration raids that occurred in Detroit earlier this month.
In the ruling which issued a 14-day stay for those who were arrested, U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith stated that “irreparable harm is made out by the significant chance of loss of life and lesser forms of persecution.”
“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,” Goldsmith said.
During the 14-day stay, Goldsmith will determine whether he has jurisdiction over the case.
The stay comes after advocates for immigrants have held protests and voiced urgent concern that deporting these Iraqis would place them at significant risk of persecution, or even death, at the hands of the Islamic State and other extremists. Many of those who were arrested during the raids were Christians, or of other religious minority groups such as Shiite Muslims.
“The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” said Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)’s Immigrants’ Right Project who argued in court on behalf of the immigrants. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”
“The decision to detain and deport these Iraqi Christians is unfathomable, unethical, and un-American. This temporary stay is a sign of hope for our Iraqi Christian community that has been plagued by injustice at the hands of President Trump,” Mark Arabo, president of the Minority Humanitarian Foundation, was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
The government said in a statement that those who were arrested were those who had criminal records, and may pose a public safety threat. However, advocates argued that many of those who were arrested have served their sentences and have been leading hardworking lives since.
According to reports, eight of those who were arrested have already been deported.
The stay expires on July 6.