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Federal Judge Orders Bond Hearings for Iraqi Detainees as They Fight Deportation

Laura Weber Davis/WDET

ACLU of Michigan Legal Director Michael Steinberg (left) speaks with Detroit Today producer Jake Neher (right)

Hundreds of Iraqis who have been detained and are fighting deportation got some good news this week.

A federal judge here in Detroit, where about a hundred of those detainees are held, ordered bond hearings for each of them individually. The judge says holding people who don’t pose a serious flight risk is unconstitutional.

The detainees, including many Iraqi Christians, were rounded up by the Department of Homeland Security over the summer. Many have been detained for six months or more.

Martin Manna, president of the Chaldean American Chamber of Commerce, says the detainees face persecution or death if they are sent back to the dwindling Christian community in Iraq.

He says the United States has an obligation to protect these people who receive refuge in the states.

After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003… we’ve gone from 340 churches to less than 40,” he says.

He says the judge’s order is a welcome change.

This is a step in the right direction, and we’re hopeful… [the detainees] can be reunited with their families while they await their hearings.”

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan is fighting in court on behalf of the detainees. ACLU of Michigan Legal Director Michael Steinberg also joins Detroit Today to talk about the case.

If the government continues to fight, we’ll fight back,” he says. “Our goal is to reunite families and keep America true to its values… These folks came here seeking relief from a police state and on June 11th, it was like a police state for many Iraqi families in this country.”

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation.

Image credit: Sandra Svoboda

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