In this Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017, photo released by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, foreign nationals are arrested in Los Angeles during a targeted enforcement operation conducted by ICE.

Judge stays deportation of Iraqis in Georgia, nationwide

A federal judge in Detroit has issued an order temporarily blocking the deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqi nationals in Georgia and across the nation amid the Trump administration’s latest attempt to crack down on illegal immigration.

In his seven-page order issued Monday, U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith said his 14-day stay will apply to all Iraqi nationals in the United States who have been ordered deported and who have been or will be arrested and detained “as a result of Iraq’s recent decision to issue travel documents to facilitate” their removal. 

This group, Goldsmith wrote, includes roughly 1,444 people nationwide. Of those, about 85 percent have been detained and face expulsion as early as Tuesday. Goldsmith said the stay will give him time to determine if he has jurisdiction over the matter. 

In recent weeks, federal immigration authorities have rounded up 199 Iraqi nationals across the country, including in Atlanta, Detroit and Nashville, prompting fears they will be deported to their Middle Eastern homeland amid deadly sectarian violence and fierce fighting to dislodge the Islamic State. Three Kurdish men who came from Iraq as asylees were arrested and 114 Iraqi natives were detained in the Detroit area this month. Many of them are Christians, The Detroit Free Press reported. Iraqi Kurds and Christians — who have long faced persecution — are strong U.S. allies in the fight against the Islamic State. 

“The substantiated allegations made here are that detainees face extraordinarily grave consequences: death, persecution, and torture,” said Goldsmith, who was nominated by President Barack Obama. 

RELATED: ICE rounding up Iraqi nationals in Atlanta, Detroit, Nashville

The American Civil Liberties Union sought the stay on behalf of Detroit-area Iraqi nationals arrested by ICE. 

“Iraqi nationals, not just in Detroit but all across the U.S., are at risk of torture and death if deported back to Iraq. The court did the right thing to ensure everyone is protected and has a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return,” said Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. 

The U.S. Justice Department and Immigration and Customs Enforcement did not immediately respond to requests for comment late Monday evening.

Channel 2's Rikki Klaus reports.

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