In June, ICE officials began arresting Iraqi nationals with final removal orders who, for years, could not be deported to Iraq due to Iraq’s resistance to repatriating individuals from the United States. In March, the Trump administration made a deal with Iraq – it would remove Iraq from the countries listed on the travel ban and, in exchange, Iraq would accept deportees from the United States. Most of these Iraqis are Christian, although some are Sunni Muslim and Kurdish.
Because these individuals will most likely face violent persecution if forced to return to Iraq, the ACLU filed a class action lawsuit to halt these deportations. On July 24, 2017, in the case Hamama v. Adducci, a federal court granted a nationwide preliminary injunction staying the removal of all Iraqi nationals in the U.S. who had final orders of removal and who have been or may be detained by ICE. The injunction gives Iraqi nationals with removal orders three months to file a motion to reopen their removal proceedings based on the changed country conditions and the persecution and/or torture they may face if forced to return there. The three month period begins upon the receipt of the class member’s alien file. If the Iraqi national is detained, the three month period begins when ICE provides his/her file to the alien and/or his/her counsel. If the Iraqi national is not detained, the three month period begins upon receipt of the file in response to a FOIA request. ICE cannot remove Iraqi nationals from the country while the motion to reopen is pending.
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