US judge orders government to release Iraqis or grant bond hearings

In this file photo, Lindsey Hamama, 11, right, cries as her mother Nahrain speaks to the crowd in Detroit, about her father Usama "Sam" Hamama, who was detained during Immigration and customs enforcement raids of primarily Chaldean immigrants, in which 114 Iraqi nationals in Metro Detroit were detained and are facing deportation. (AP)
Updated 03 January 2018
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US judge orders government to release Iraqis or grant bond hearings

WASHINGTON: A US judge ordered the government on Tuesday to either release Iraqi immigrants it arrested last year or grant them bond hearings, in the latest judicial curb on the Trump administration’s efforts to tighten US immigration.
Last year the federal government detained hundreds of Iraqi immigrants who had been ordered deported years ago due to criminal convictions. Iraq until recently had refused to take them back, but struck a deal with the US in March to repatriate its citizens, sparking the immigration sweeps.
The Iraqis and civil rights groups representing them sued the federal government. US District Judge Mark Goldsmith, in Detroit, had previously halted the deportation of the Iraqis, many of whom are Christian, who argued they would face persecution if they were sent back to Iraq.
In his ruling on Tuesday, Goldsmith said that any of the Iraqis held for six months or longer must either be released or granted a bond hearing before an immigration judge within 30 days.
“Our legal tradition rejects warehousing human beings while their legal rights are being determined,” wrote Goldsmith.
The Trump administration has tried to deport the Iraqis as part of its push to increase immigration enforcement and make countries, which have resisted in the past, take back nationals ordered deported from the US.
Since June, immigration enforcement officers have detained approximately 300 Iraqi nationals with final deportation orders, according to information provided to the court by the Iraqis’ lawyers. There are approximately 1,400 Iraqis in the US with final deportation orders.
The US government said in March that Iraq had agreed to repatriate Iraqi nationals ordered deported from the US.
But Goldsmith noted in his order that the US has “no written agreement” with Iraq regarding its cooperation, and that it is therefore unclear whether Iraq had agreed to take back all its nationals, and if so, under what conditions.
Goldsmith said his ruling would apply to Iraqi detainees in similar circumstances nationwide, even if they are not involved in the litigation.
“(Goldsmith) just really reaffirmed the principle that indefinite detention in this country is not acceptable,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which is representing the Iraqis.
The Department of Justice, which is arguing on behalf of the government, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


Pakistan's leading political party faces jolt

Updated 24 June 2018
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Pakistan's leading political party faces jolt

  • Former PM Nawaz Sharif may not be able to spearhead PML-N's election campaign
  • The three-time premier is a crowd-puller and could help the beleaguered PML-N, but only “if he returns to Pakistan and leads the election campaign,” political analyst Tahir Malik told Arab News on Sunday

ISLAMABAD: The electoral success of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) hangs in the balance as its most charismatic leader, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, is outside the country and may not lead his party’s campaign ahead of the July 25 polls, analysts say.
“If Sharif doesn’t return from London to Pakistan by next week, his party may face huge losses in the upcoming elections,” political analyst Tahir Malik told Arab News on Sunday.
The three-time premier is a crowd-puller and could help the beleaguered PML-N, but only “if he returns to Pakistan and leads the election campaign,” Malik said.
Sharif is in London visiting his wife Begum Kalsoom Nawaz, who has been on a ventilator since June 14 and has been undergoing treatment for throat cancer since August 2017.
“Do you think it is appropriate for me to return to Pakistan when Begum Kalsoom is fighting for life?” Sharif asked on Saturday.
He said he had planned a four-day trip to London, but is now unsure about returning to Pakistan due to her health. Sharif and his daughter Maryam Nawaz have been in the UK since June 15.
“The Sharif family is passing through a difficult time, and the situation could adversely impact their party’s electoral prospects,” Malik said.
An accountability court hearing three separate corruption references against Sharif, Nawaz and others is scheduled to conclude the trial by July 9, as per the Supreme Court’s instructions.
In July 2017, the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif from holding the prime minister’s office, and directed the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) to file corruption references against him and his family members.
“Even after being disqualified from holding any public office, Sharif still enjoys public support,” political analyst Rasul Bukhsh Rais told Arab News.
But if the accountability court convicts Sharif in the graft cases before the elections, this would demoralize his party and PML-N voters, Rais said.
His younger brother, who has become the party’s president after Sharif’s disqualification, “may not be able to run an effective election campaign,” Rais added.
Sen. Mushahidullah Khan, the PML-N’s information secretary, said Sharif and his daughter will return to Pakistan to lead the party’s election campaign once his wife’s health improves.
“Our detractors will be disappointed. The PML-N will win a clear majority in the elections under the leadership of Nawaz Sharif,” Khan told Arab News.