ACLU Asks Judge for Emergency Order to Stop ICE from Coercing Iraqi Detainees

June 14, 2018

DETROIT – The ACLU of Michigan has filed an emergency motion to protect Iraqis detained by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) from illegal coercion and intimidation.  On behalf of detainees and their families, the ACLU is asking the court to stop threats and misinformation by ICE agents, intended to pressure long-time U.S. residents into agreeing to be deported.  Many detainees are from persecuted ethnic or religious minority groups.

“We are appalled that ICE would threaten our clients with criminal prosecution for refusing to say they want to go to Iraq,” said Miriam Aukerman, ACLU of Michigan senior staff attorney.  “ICE is coercing vulnerable detainees, many of whom have been in jail for a year already, by saying that if they do not agree to be deported, they will be locked up for many years or even forever.”

The emergency motion, filed in the U.S. District Court in Detroit requests a court order prohibiting ICE and Depart­ment of Homeland Security (DHS) agents from “making any statement threatening prosecution” or “projecting or suggesting how long an individual might remain in detention or their likelihood of removal to Iraq.”  The ACLU is also asking the judge for immediate access to their clients so they can warn them about ICE coercion.

A hearing on the emergency motion is scheduled for Monday, June 18,2018, at 10 am at the federal courthouse in Detroit.

“ICE is well aware that our clients face grave danger or even death if they are deported to Iraq,” said Kimberly Scott, an attorney with Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone, who is also representing the Iraqi detainees.  “Yet ICE is telling them it’s a crime to say they want to remain here with their families. This is not right and we hope the Court will quickly put a stop to it.”

The motion is the latest development in Hamama v. Adducci, a nationwide class action lawsuit filed in June 2017 to protect hundreds of Iraqi nationals, who were arrested throughout the country without warning, detained and threatened with immediate deportation. Many came to the U.S. as children, now have families, and have been living and working in the U.S. for decades.

Last summer U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith stopped the immediate deportation of hundreds of Iraqis who were arrested on old orders of removal, allowing them an opportunity to have their cases heard by an immigration judge.  The lawsuit also won bond hearings for many of the detainees while they fight their immigration cases.

The emergency motion filed June 13 seeks to protect approximately 100 Iraqi nationals who are still in detention and to ensure they will not be threatened with prosecution or lengthy detention for continuing their immigration cases.  The detainees are scattered in locations across the United States and have had limited access to attorneys.

In addition to the ACLU, the nationwide class-action lawsuit was brought by CODE Legal Aid, Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, International Refugee Assistance Project, and the law firm Miller Canfield Paddock & Stone.

Read the emergency motion here

Read more about the case here

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