On 21st November, SRT grantee, the International Refugee Assistance Project, working with partner organizations, won a class action lawsuit in support of a group of Iraqis at risk of deportation from the US. We estimate that over 100 detained Iraqis may be released within the next thirty days because of the court order.
In July 2017, District Court Judge, Mark Goldsmith, ruled that the government was not allowed to deport any of the detainees without providing them with the opportunity to plead their case to an immigration court. Many of the detainees were Chaldean Christians or had served in the U.S. military, and would subsequently face torture or death if they returned to Iraq.
The Iraqi detainees were represented at both hearings by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, who are a partner advocate of the International Refugee Assistance Project. Lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union challenged claims made by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that the Iraqi authorities were willing to accept the detainees back into the country. They also argued that as there was no proof that deportation was imminent, keeping the Iraqis detained indefinitely was a violation of a Supreme Court decision, and that the remaining detainees should therefore be released.
The court ordered the release of class members who have been detained for more than six months within thirty days, unless the court determines that release is not required in individual circumstances.
Miriam Aukerman, senior staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said: ‘Today’s decision is about accountability. Judge Goldsmith made it clear that ICE is not above the law’.
Becca Heller, co-founder and executive director of the International Refugee Assistance Project, was pleased to announce: ‘Thanks to this decision and the incredible work of our team of partner advocates, we hope to see many detained Iraqis go home to their families while the lawsuit continues.’
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