Hamama v. Adducci

October 25, 2018

The ACLU sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement in June 2017 on behalf of Iraqi residents and their families in the U.S., after ICE agents arrested more than 100 Iraqi nationals without warning — including many who came to the U.S. as children and who’ve lived in the U.S. for decades — in raids throughout Metro Detroit.

In this class-action lawsuit, Hamama v. Adducci, we argued that if returned to Iraq, these people face persecution, torture or death, and that it is illegal to deport the detainees without giving them an opportunity to present their claims to an immigration judge. Nationwide, some 1400 Iraqis with old removal orders are affected by the case. More than 350 of them have been detained during the case.

On July 24, 2017, a federal court granted the ACLU’s request for a nationwide preliminary injunction; the court stayed the removal of all Iraqi nationals in the U.S. who had final orders of removal on June 24, 2017 and who have been, or will be, detained by ICE. The injunction gave class members three months to file a motion to reopen in the immigration courts, so that their cases could be decided on an individual basis. The three month period started when the government provided class members with copies of their immigration files and records that are necessary to properly litigate relief in immigration court. The stay of deportation continues while the individual’s immigration case works its way through the immigration court system, including the appeals process.

In November 2017, when ICE continued to detain many class members without bond hearings while they fight their immigration cases, the ACLU filed a second preliminary injunction motion arguing that the Constitution forbids detention without an individualized bond hearing to determine if detention is necessary. On January 2, 2018, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith held that the detainees should receive individualized bond hearings, explaining that “our legal tradition rejects warehousing human beings while their legal rights are being determined, without an opportunity to persuade a judge that the norm of monitored freedom should be followed.” Most of those bond hearings have now been held, and about half of the detainees have returned home. However, many detainees remain unjustly incarcerated.

The government appealed both the U.S. District Court’s order staying removal to Iraq and the order prohibiting prolonged detention without a bond hearing.

In June 2018, the ACLU of Michigan filed an emergency motion to protect Iraqis detained by ICE from illegal coercion and intimidation. ICE had been threatening our vulnerable clients with criminal prosecution for refusing to say they want to go to Iraq. Judge Goldsmith granted immediate relief to the Iraqi detainees, prohibiting ICE from harassing the long-time U.S. residents into agreeing to be deported.

In August 2018, we asked the U.S. District Court to release the more than 100 Iraqi nationals who remain illegally detained by U.S. immigration authorities, most for more than a year. The ACLU also requested sanctions against ICE for misleading the court, and asked to unseal secret documents that show ICE’s prior statements to the court were false.

In October 2018, Judge Goldsmith ordered the secret documents released. The formerly sealed evidence shows that ICE had been lying, and that the Iraqi detainees are unlikely to be removed from the United States. These falsehoods are the reason the Iraqis remain locked up: the Constitution and federal law prohibit prolonged detention when removal is not significantly likely.

In addition to lawyers from the ACLU of Michigan and the National ACLU, the case is being litigated by the law firm of Miller Canfield, Michigan Law Professor Margo Schlanger, the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, CODE Legal Aid, and other ACLU cooperating attorneys.