Federal judge halts deportation of dozens of Iraqi Christians

A Detroit federal judge issued a two-week stay Thursday halting the planned deportation of more than 100 Iraqi Christians back to their country of origin.

U.S. District Court Judge Mark A. Goldsmith responded to a habeus corpus petition filed by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of 114 immigrants by staying the deportation orders until he decides whether he has jurisdiction to hear the case.

The Justice Department said the detainees must go to immigration court to try to remain in the U.S., not U.S. District Court. But the ACLU said they might be deported before an immigration judge can consider their requests to stay.

Goldsmith, who heard arguments Wednesday, 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.

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