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Federal judge issues stay to stop deportation of more than 1,400 Iraqi immigrants

DETROIT -- A group of 1,444 Iraqi immigrants received some good news on Monday night when U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith granted a stay to prevent deportation, CBS Detroit reports.

The temporary stay is based on those being deported -- who are mostly Christians -- could possibly face danger when sent back to Iraq. In the report Goldsmith considered this to be "extreme circumstances" and gave all Iraqi nationals effected two more weeks to legally fight their deportation.

"The substantial allegations made here are the detainees face extreme, grave consequences: death, persecution and torture," Goldsmith wrote in the report issued shortly after 9 p.m. "Such harm far outweighs any interest the government may have in proceeding with the removals immediately." 

CBS Detroit reports that with this being an immediate concern with a dangerous outcome that it makes sense to issue this verdict.

The government was going to deport people as early as Tuesday, the station noted. There was an immediate concern and an immediate mean to act. The judge was also concerned that there is at least an allegation that if Iraqi nationals go back to Iraq they could be tortured or killed.

The American Civil Liberties Union said a suspension is necessary so Iraqi nationals can go to immigration court and argue that their lives would be in jeopardy if returned to their native country. Without some intervention, the ACLU contends that people could be deported before their case is called.

"They need enough time to file those petitions to reopen. It's the government that is hurrying these people toward deportation," Margo Schlanger, attorney for the Iraqi immigrants, told the judge.

Hundreds of Chaldeans and other Iraqis were arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on June 11 during sweeps which took place in Sterling Heights, West Bloomfield and Dearborn.

Those arrested have since been detained at locations across Michigan, Ohio and Louisiana.

The Justice Department insists a U.S. District Court judge doesn't have jurisdiction in the immigration matter. Goldsmith is not certain so the 14-day freeze will give him more time to decide.

"It's an unusual case for all kinds of reasons," he said hours earlier while hearing arguments.