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Appeals court ruling puts Iraqi detainees future in question

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An appeals court says a federal judge in Detroit did not have the authority to stop Iraqis held in US custody from being deported.

The order means the government can soon begin sending some Iraqi detainees back to their native country.

About two years ago US Immigration officials arrested roughly 14-hundred Iraqis nationwide – including more than a hundred in Metro Detroit -- who had already been ordered to be deported.

But US District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith ruled circumstances had changed in Iraq, and the detainees, many of them Christians, faced torture or death if deported. He said they deserved to make that case in immigration court, and also ordered any detained six months or longer released.

But an appeals court panel ruled in December that Goldsmith over-stepped his legal bounds, and now the full Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld that ruling. That means some of the Iraqi detainees could be deported after April 9th.

Hundreds of the Iraqis have already been released, but those still held in custody or who have not yet requested an immigration hearing face deportation. The Iraqi government has reportedly said it would not accept any of the detainees who did not want to willingly return there.