Detroit judge halts deportation of Iraqi Christians

Iraqis and supporters rally outside the Theodore Levin United States Courthouse in Detroit, Michigan, on Wednesday. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Updated 23 June 2017
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Detroit judge halts deportation of Iraqi Christians

DETROIT: A judge on Thursday temporarily halted the deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians living in the Detroit area who fear torture and possible death if sent back to Iraq.
US District Judge Mark Goldsmith said in a written order that deportation is halted for 14 days while he decides if his court has jurisdiction to hear their plight.
The Justice Department had argued that the detainees, including many who were recently rounded up after decades in the US, must go to immigration court to try to remain in the US, not US District Court. But the American Civil Liberties Union said they might be deported before an immigration judge can consider their requests to stay.
Goldsmith heard arguments Wednesday. He said he needs more time to consider complex legal issues.
Potential physical harm “far outweighs any conceivable interest the government might have in the immediate enforcement of the removal orders before this court can clarify whether it has jurisdiction to grant relief to petitioners on the merits of their claims,” Goldsmith said.
Most of the 114 Iraqis are Chaldean Christians, but some are Shiite Muslims and converts to Christianity. They were arrested on or about June 11 and the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement said all have criminal convictions.
Iraq recently agreed to accept Iraqi nationals subject to removal from the US.
“The court took a life-saving action by blocking our clients from being immediately sent back to Iraq,” Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a release. “They should have a chance to show that their lives are in jeopardy if forced to return.”
Besides the 114 arrested in the Detroit area, 85 other Iraqi nationals were arrested elsewhere in the country, according to ICE. As of April 17, there were 1,444 Iraqi nationals with final orders of removal from the US Eight already have been returned to Iraq.
The detainees include Louis Akrawi, who served more than 20 years in Michigan prisons for second-degree murder. He was accused of arranging a shooting that killed an innocent bystander in 1993.
“He’s 69 years old, he has two artificial knees, and he needs surgery on both eyes. Sending him back to Iraq is unfair,” his son, Victor Akrawi, told The Detroit News.


Election rally attack Pakistan’s second deadliest as toll hits 149

Updated 3 min 21 sec ago
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Election rally attack Pakistan’s second deadliest as toll hits 149

  • The latest toll topped that of a 2007 bomb attack in Karachi targeting former premier Benazir Bhutto which killed 139 people
  • The country’s worst-ever attack was an assault on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014 that left more than 150 people dead

MASTUNG, Pakistan: The death toll from a suicide bombing that hit southwestern Pakistan on Friday has risen to 149, making it the second most lethal attack in the country’s history, officials said Sunday as top politicians joined a day of national mourning.
The attack claimed by the Daesh group was the latest in a series of deadly blasts at various election campaign events ahead of national polls on July 25.
A suicide bomber detonated as local politician Siraj Raisani spoke to a crowd of supporters in southwestern Mastung district on Friday. Raisani was among those killed.
The dead included nine children aged between six and 11, senior government official Qaim Lashari said Sunday, adding that 70 people remained in hospital with five in a critical condition.
The latest toll topped that of a 2007 bomb attack in Karachi targeting former premier Benazir Bhutto, which killed 139 people.
The country’s worst-ever attack was an assault on a school in the northwestern city of Peshawar in 2014 that left more than 150 people dead, many of them children.
Authorities will publish adverts in local newspapers on Monday seeking information on bodies taken home directly after the latest attack and buried without informing police, Lashari said, meaning the official toll could rise again.
“We are trying our best to ascertain the exact data of those killed in the blast,” he told AFP.
Saeed Jamal, another senior government official, confirmed the latest death toll and number wounded in the attack.
Politicians including high-profile election candidate and former international cricketer Imran Khan visited provincial capital Quetta Sunday to pay their respects to the dead.
“It was a huge tragedy,” Khan told a press conference, calling for the military, police and civilian government to prevent further attacks.
Friday’s blast came hours after another bomb killed at least four people at a campaign rally in Bannu in the country’s northwest. A third bomb killed 22 people at another rally in Peshawar on Tuesday.
Shahbaz Sharif, brother of ousted premier Nawaz Sharif and rival to Khan, also visited Quetta and called for the attack’s culprits to face “exemplary” punishment.
The visits took place hours after funeral prayers were offered for Raisani in a ceremony attended by Pakistan’s powerful military chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Raisani’s body was then driven from Quetta to his ancestral home of Kanak, near where he was killed, for a second set of funeral prayers tightly guarded by paramilitary forces.
He was laid to rest beside the grave of his son Akmal, who was killed in a grenade attack in 2011. Raisani’s father and other male relatives, killed in tribal warfare, are also all buried there.
One of the mourners in Kanak, Ali Ahmad, said “no house in the area” had been unaffected by the attack.
“Every eye is tearful,” he told AFP.
Two of his nephews had attended the rally in order to taste the cold sweet syrup that political parties often serve at such events, he said. They were both killed.
Mohammad Shoib, who had attended the rally but escaped with just minor injuries, said the moments after the blast were “terrible.”
“Everybody there, like me, was helpless — all they could do was wail or cry,” he said through tears.