A US federal district judge has intervened to block the deportation of over 100 Iraqi Christians who were arrested earlier month in Michigan.
The temporary stay allows any of the men and women detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to appear before an immigration judge and make their case for remaining in the United States.
ICE has arrested 199 Iraqi nationals since May, including 114 from Detroit, according to its press secretary, Gillian Christensen. ICE officials said most of the detainee have criminal records, CNN reported.
The detainees were granted the stay after they and the American Civil Liberties Union filed a petition last week, claiming that a forced return to Iraq would mean facing “persecution, torture, or death,” CNN reported.
An ICE spokesman said that the agency “intends to comply with the terms of the order, while determining the appropriate next steps.”
Lee Gelernt, the ACLU’s deputy director of the organization’s Immigrants’ Rights Project who argued the case, said in a statement that the court “took a life-saving action” by blocking the deportation.
“They (detainees) should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”
Gelernt said the ACLU plans to ask the judge to extend the restraining order beyond 14 days, CNN reported.