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World

US judge rules 100s of jailed Iraqi nationals to get bond hearings

By Rudaw 3/1/2018
A woman in Michigan holds a photo of her and her husband's 2-year-old granddaughter. The 42-year-old husband is an Iraqi national who was detained during ICE raids in June 2017. Photo: AP
A woman in Michigan holds a photo of her and her husband's 2-year-old granddaughter. The 42-year-old husband is an Iraqi national who was detained during ICE raids in June 2017. Photo: AP
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region — A federal judge ruled that 274 Iraqi nationals who have been jailed for months should be afforded bond hearings, as their legal cases unfold, amid US President Donald Trump’s crackdown on immigrants.

“Our legal tradition rejects warehousing human beings while their legal rights are being determined, without an opportunity to persuade a judge that the norm of monitored freedom should be followed,” US District Judge Mark Goldsmith wrote.

The federal judge in the Eastern District of Michigan cited the Constitution to justify his decision.


“The principle is familiar to all in the context of the criminal law, where even a heinous criminal — whether a citizen or not — enjoys the right to seek pre-trial release," wrote Goldsmith.

The detained Iraqis of various backgrounds including Arabs and Chaldeans must demonstrate in the bond hearing — which are to be held by February 2 — that they aren't risks to flee or break their bonds terms, nor are they dangerous.


Rudaw interviewed several of the Iraqi nationals and community leaders in Michigan in July.

“A lot of these people, once they go back to Iraq might be a target of criminals, a target of gangsters that know these people come from America or have relatives in America and they will be targeted,” believed Rudy Zoma, a pastor at the local Saint Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church.

US immigration authorities jailed the individuals after Iraq agreed to accept deportees as part of a deal in March to remove Iraq from the list of countries on Trump's travel ban.

Gillian Christensen, a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman stated in June that the overwhelming majority of those arrested had criminal convictions for crimes including murder, rape, assault, kidnapping, burglary, drug trafficking, weapons violations and other offenses.

However, local and national civil rights groups like the ACLU have said these individuals have already served their sentences and a deportation trial for those crimes amounts to double jeopardy.

“(Goldsmith) just really reaffirmed the principle that indefinite detention in this country is not acceptable,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which is representing the Iraqis, was quoted as saying by Reuters.

The Department of Justice, which is arguing on behalf of the government, did not immediately respond to a request for comment by USA Today.

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