DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – The U.S. Justice Department is asking for more time to comply with an order that would likely lead to the release of hundreds of Iraqi nationals who are under deportation orders.
In a court filing Wednesday, the government says it can’t schedule bond hearings by Feb. 2 without delaying hearings for others who are not part of the case. It wants 30 more days to comply with a decision by Detroit federal Judge Mark Goldsmith.
Goldsmith has blocked the deportation of 1,400 Iraqi nationals with criminal records so they can challenge their removal. Nearly 300 are jailed or in U.S. detention centers in about two dozen states.
The judge says anyone who has been held for six months should be released on bond unless they’re a public safety risk.
About 100 Iraqi nationals were arrested in raids in the Detroit area last June, amid a week when hundreds were rounded up in Texas, Tennessee, California and elsewhere in the U.S.
The ACLU, which filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of the detainees, says most of the 114 Iraqis arrested in Michigan are Chaldean Christians but that there are also some Shiite Muslims and Christian converts. The civil rights ground said all of them fear violent retribution if they’re deported.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has stressed that all of those arrested had criminal convictions, including for murder, rape and drug trafficking, and were ordered deported by an immigration judge only after “full and fair” proceedings.
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