A federal judge in Michigan halted on Monday the deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqi nationals from the United States, the latest legal victory for the Iraqi nationals facing deportation in a closely watched case.
US District Judge Mark Goldsmith granted a preliminary injunction requested by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, who argued the immigrants would face persecution in Iraq because they are considered ethnic and religious minorities there, reports Reuters.
Goldsmith said the injunction provides detainees time to challenge their removal in federal courts. He said many of them faced "a feverish search for legal assistance" after their deportation orders were unexpectedly resurrected by the US government after several years.
Goldsmith wrote, in his 34-page opinion and order, that the extra time assures "that those who might be subjected to grave harm and possible death are not cast out of this country before having their day in court,".
The decision effectively means no Iraqi nationals can be deported from the United States for several months.
It was not immediately known whether Goldsmith's ruling would be appealed by the US government. A representative for the US Attorney's Office in Detroit did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
There are 1,444 Iraqi nationals who have final deportation orders against them in the United States, although only about 199 of them were detained in June as part of a nationwide sweep by immigration authorities.
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