Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is weighing whether to grant a pardon to about 40 Iraqis set to be deported from the U.S.
The Iraqis hope cleansing their criminal records could help them stay in the U.S.
They were detained as part of a nationwide sweep conducted after Iraq agreed to accept deportees from the U.S.
The federal government argues that the 114 Iraqis taken into custody from Metro Detroit should be deported, saying they have criminal convictions and pose a threat to the public.
The American Civil Liberties Union and others counter that many of the Iraqis have already served their sentences and face torture or death if returned to Iraq because they are Christians.
Now officials in Gov. Rick Snyder’s office say they have formally received the request to pardon about 40 of the Iraqis detained in Michigan.
Spokespeople for Snyder say he is considering it.
Snyder typically grants pardons in December.
But attorneys for the group of detained Iraqis say they hope Snyder will make a decision much sooner than usual, contending that their clients could face deportation at any time if a temporary order halting the removals is lifted.
A federal judge in Detroit has stayed all Iraqi deportations from the U.S. until at least July 24th while he determines if he has jurisdiction in the case.