By Ian Simpson
(Reuters) – The American Civil Liberties Union asked a U.S. judge on Saturday to expand an order that temporarily blocks the deportation of 114 Iraqis in Michigan, to cover Iraqis nationwide, according to a court filing.
The advocacy group filed an amended complaint seeking to keep Immigration and Customs Enforcement from deporting Iraqis from anywhere in the United States while a federal judge weighs the case of the Iraqis in Michigan.
U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith on Thursday ordered a stay in the Michigan Iraqis’ deportation for at least two weeks while he decides whether he has jurisdiction.
The ACLU, which had sued to block the Michigan deportations, asked Goldsmith to rule by Monday on expanding his order to cover the more than 1,400 Iraqis facing expulsion across the United States. The immigration agency has indicated it might start those deportations as soon as Tuesday, the ACLU said.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said the agency was reviewing the judge’s order.
“The agency intends to comply with the terms of the order, while determining the appropriate next steps,” she said in an email.
The Department of Justice did not respond to a request for comment.
The ACLU said in its filing that those being deported could face persecution or torture because many were Chaldean Catholics or Iraqi Kurds and that both groups were recognized as targets of ill-treatment in Iraq.
The ACLU also filed a motion asking the judge to extend his order nationwide to ensure that people who could face persecution, torture or death in Iraq are not deported.
The arrests of the Iraqis in Michigan were part of a sweep by immigration authorities who detained about 199 Iraqi immigrants around the country. They had final deportation orders and convictions for serious crimes.
The roundup followed Iraq’s agreement to accept deportees as part of a deal that removed the country from President Donald Trump’s revised temporary travel ban.
The U.S. government has argued that the district court does not have jurisdiction over the case since only immigration courts can decide deportation issues.
(Reporting by Ian Simpson in Washington; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)