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ACLU says ICE misled federal court, wants Iraqi detainees released

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Michigan Radio
The ACLU of Michigan says Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) lied to a federal court when it said Iraq would take back the more than 100 Iraqi nationals the agency detained last year.

The ACLU of Michigan says U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has misled a federal court about whether Iraqi detainees can go back to Iraq.

In June of 2017, ICE conducted raids across Michigan and arrested more than 100 Iraqis for crimes – many committed years ago. Many of the Iraqis are Christians who face religious persecution or other retribution if they return. The ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of the detainees.

Miriam Aukerman is a senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Michigan. She said ICE officials fought to turn over documents for the lawsuit. But the documents they have received, which are kept secret due to a court order, show that ICE has lied to the court when it said Iraq would take detainees back without limitations.

“It is absolutely appalling that ICE would lock people up and throw away the key,” Aukerman said. “But it’s even more appalling that ICE would mislead the court in order to do that.”

Aukerman says there is a policy that Iraq has issued that says the country won’t take people who are forced back. She says there are other documents that further show how ICE has misled the court, but she could not go into details. As it stands now, Aukerman says, ICE is keeping the detainees indefinitely.

“We do not warehouse people in this country,” Aukerman said. “That is not what this is for.”

The ACLU wants a judge to release the detainees, allow the public to see the documents that show ICE misled the court, and issue sanctions against ICE.

A spokesperson for ICE did not immediately return a request for comment.

Before becoming the newest Capitol reporter for the Michigan Public Radio Network, Cheyna Roth was an attorney. She spent her days fighting it out in court as an assistant prosecuting attorney for Ionia County. Eventually, Cheyna took her investigative and interview skills and moved on to journalism. She got her masters at Michigan State University and was a documentary filmmaker, podcaster, and freelance writer before finding her home with NPR. Very soon after joining MPRN, Cheyna started covering the 2016 presidential election, chasing after Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, and all their surrogates as they duked it out for Michigan. Cheyna also focuses on the Legislature and criminal justice issues for MPRN. Cheyna is obsessively curious, a passionate storyteller, and an occasional backpacker. Follow her on Twitter at @Cheyna_R
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