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U.S. District Court Orders Release of Iraqi Detainees

November 20, 2018

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Michigan applauds the decision of U.S. District Judge Mark A. Goldsmith to order the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release all Iraqis within 30 days.

“The law is clear that the Federal Government cannot indefinitely detain foreign nationals while it seeks to repatriate them, when there is no significant likelihood of repatriation in the reasonably foreseeable future,” wrote Judge Goldsmith in a 59-page opinion.

Judge Goldsmith also wrote that he will impose sanctions on the Government for “…failing to comply with court orders, submitting demonstrably false declarations of Government officials, and otherwise violating its litigation obligations—all of which impels this Court to impose sanctions.”

 “Today’s decision is about accountability,” said ACLU senior staff attorney Miriam Aukerman. “ICE thought it could get away with lying to a federal judge. ICE thought it could get away with using indefinite detention to coerce Iraqis to accept deportation despite the dangers they face in Iraq. Today, Judge Goldsmith made it clear that ICE is not above the law.”

“It is appalling that ICE lied to the Court, and even more appalling that it did so in order to keep people wrongfully incarcerated,” said University of Michigan law professor Margo Schlanger, a cooperating attorney for the ACLU. “The Court made it absolutely clear that it will not tolerate such misconduct, and that ICE cannot simply lock people up and throw away the key.”

“We are delighted that families who have been separated for so long will finally be reunited,” said Kim Scott, an attorney at Miller Canfield who also represents the detainees. “As a result of today’s order, many of those who were unjustly detained will be home with their families for the holidays.”

Today’s ruling is the latest development in Hamama v. Adducci, a nationwide class action filed in June 2017 on behalf of hundreds of Iraqi nationals, who were arrested throughout the country without warning and threatened with immediate deportation. Many came to the U.S. as children and have lived and worked in the U.S. for decades. They now face persecution, torture, or even death in Iraq because of their religion, ethnicity, or the fact that they are Americanized. Approximately 120 Iraqis remain detained.

Read Judge Goldsmith's order here