Metro Detroit Iraqi Christians, Deportation, ICE

DETROIT (WWJ) – A temporary legal win for a group of Metro Detroit Iraqi Christians has energized local family members working for their release.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a stay on any deportations yesterday until the courts determine who has jurisdiction to handle the cases of the more than 100 detainees.

Shoki Konja of Franklin is fighting for the release of his brother — Najah  — who was among those rounded up by ICE agents two weeks ago. He is hopeful that Goldsmith will stay on the case so those detained will have more time to receive legal counsel.

“Finally someone is listening to us,” Konja told WWJ. “We are looking forward to a judge who will seriously consider that he has jurisdiction and he can give these young people a chance to give their case.

“Heard in front of an immigration judge, which is the ultimate goal, and I’m sure if they hear that then they won’t send these people back to where they (will) face a death sentence.”

Dozens of Chaldeans and other Iraqis were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on June 11 during sweeps which took place in Sterling Heights, West Bloomfield and Dearborn. Those arrested have since been detained at locations across Michigan, Ohio and Louisiana.

More than 100 people were taken into custody on the morning of June 11 and are still awaiting deportation. Reports indicate most had criminal records — some with crimes committed years ago.

An attorney for some of those arrested say that those being deported to Iraq fear for their lives.

“It’s insane to send young people (who are) Christians to Iraq at this time,” Konja said. “Where are you going to send these people? Here you have the president of this country assuring everyone we must protect Christians in the middle east.”

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