Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Court Orders Release of Iraqi Chaldean Detainees

A Michigan federal district court yesterday, in the latest installment in a case filed last year, ordered the release from federal detention of hundreds of Iraqi deportees who have been issued final removal orders, but whom the government has been unable to repatriate. Most of the detainees, according to the court, "are Chaldean Christians who would face persecution, torture, and possibly death if returned to Iraq." In Hamama v. Adducci, (ED MI, Nov. 20, 2018), the court said in part:
The law is clear that the Federal Government cannot indefinitely detain foreign nationals while it seeks to repatriate them, when there is no significant likelihood of repatriation in the reasonably foreseeable future. This principle emanates from our Constitution’s core value of rejecting arbitrary restraints on individual liberty.
The issue the Court now resolves is whether there is such a likelihood of repatriation for scores of Iraqi nationals whom the Government has detained for an extended period—many for well over a year—while it engages in a diplomatic dialogue with Iraq that has yet to produce any clear agreement on repatriation. In fact, the weight of the evidence actually uncovered during discovery shows that Iraq will not take back individuals who will not voluntarily agree to return. This means that the Iraqi detainees could remain locked up indefinitely—many in local jails.... [T]he Government has acted ignobly in this case, by failing to comply with court orders, submitting demonstrably false declarations of Government officials, and otherwise violating its litigation obligations—all of which impels this Court to impose sanctions.
As explained fully below, the Court will grant a preliminary injunction, as requested by Petitioners in this case, ordering that those detained more than six months be released under orders of supervision.
ACLU issued a press release announcing the decision.