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Families, attorneys says chance at pardon giving Iraqi detainees new hope

Flickr User Detroit Regional Chamber

Family members and attorneys for Iraqi Christians facing deportation say the possibility of pardons is giving them a new sense of hope.

Governor Rick Snyder asked the Michigan Parole Board to look into nearly 70 cases of Iraqis who’ve asked for pardons. They face deportation because of criminal convictions, many dating back years. The parole board has put nine of those requests on an expedited schedule.

Attorney Brad Maze represents many Iraqis who were detained by federal immigration authorities. Maze says a pardon gives detainees more legal options, and the chance to get their green cards returned.

“It’s really a huge difference in the ability of these people to remain here and continue    to be members of our community.”

Maze says pardons may be the last hope for some of the detainees.

“Well, it opens up avenues for them to stay, which were previously foreclosed because of the convictions. It really does greatly enhance their ability to stay here and continue to be members of our community.”

He says in most cases, the offenses occurred many years ago.

“And one thing to remember is a lot of them have US citizen spouses, US citizen children. They’ve got businesses. They’ve been contributing members to our community and our economy for the number of years that they’ve been here.”

Maze says a pardon would allow the detainees to ask to have their US residency restored and, perhaps, one day become citizens. Iraqi Christians say they face the threat of persecution, torture, and death if they are returned.

Rick Pluta is the Capitol Bureau Chief for the Michigan Public Radio Network. He is heard daily on WCMU's Morning Edition and All Things Considered.