DETROIT (WWJ) – A group of detained Iraqi Christians who were rounded up within the last few weeks plan to ask Governor Rick Snyder for a pardon to avoid deportation.
Hundreds 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.
WWJ Legal Analyst Charlie Langton explained during a live broadcast that if Snyder takes the pardon then those detained without a criminal record would be free to go.
“This is very unusual, it is unprecedented and it’s kind of a long shot,” Langton said during a live broadcast. “But the bottom line here is if Governor Rick Snyder weighs in on the mix of this deportation issue, if he decides to grab a pardon then essentially that would be wiping away the criminal conviction of these Iraqi Christians. If these Iraqi Christians have no criminal record on their record then they can stay in the country. There’d be no reason to under the immigration law to deport them.”
Langton added that he has been told many of the 114 Chaldeans detained have been convicted of state crimes. Snyder could also get involved in a pick-and-choose situation, depending on the severity of the crime.
The group of detained Iraqi Christians experienced a temporary legal win on Friday when U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith issued a stay on any deportations until the courts determine who has jurisdiction to handle the cases.
Family members of those detained have been working to help get them released. 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.”