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Judge sets deadline for government to produce detainee immigration files

Judge's gavel

A federal judge in Detroit has ordered the government to provide immigration files to Iraqis being detained while they fight deportation. The detainees have been held for months in facilities all across the country while they wait on records needed to go to immigration court.

Miriam Aukerman is an attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. She says hundreds of detainees were being held with no end in sight while the federal government slow-walked their records.

“People are literally in jail because there’s a line at the photocopier,” she said.

The government has until the middle of next month to provide the first set of files. All the files need to be provided to detainees no later than November 27.  

The order also requires the government to post notices in detention centers on how to consult with an attorney before waiving rights to fight deportation, and to report efforts to intimidate or coerce detainees into accepting voluntary deportation.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement also has three days to provide the American Civil Liberties Union with the names of detainees who are on a hunger strike.

The detainees are mostly Iraqi Christians who say they face persecution and torture if returned to the country. They were rounded up by immigration officers because they have criminal convictions in their histories. 

Aukerman says the next step is to ask the judge to let the detainees return to their families while they fight to remain in the U.S.

The government, meanwhile, is appealing Judge Mark Goldsmith’s order delaying deportations until the detainees have a chance to fight deportation orders. 

Rick Pluta is Senior Capitol Correspondent for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He has been covering Michigan’s Capitol, government, and politics since 1987.
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