June 23 (UPI) -- A Detroit federal judge blocked the deportation of 114 people detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement authorities.
The Detroit-area residents, Iraqis who are Muslims and members of the Christian Chaldean sect, were detained on June 11 in a roundup. ICE agents said at the time they would be deported a day later, saying in a statement that all had criminal records.
It was later determined that all but two had criminal records, with charges pending against the remaining two.
The American Civil Liberties Union sued to stop the deportations.
A written order by U.S. District Court Judge Mark Goldsmith said the court was unsure if it had "subject-matter jurisdiction" in issuing a stay. It will expire on July 6. The order noted that the detainees could face persecution if they are deported to Iraq.
"Irreparable harm is made out by the significant chance of loss of life and lesser forms of persecution that petitioners have substantiated. The public interest is also better served by an orderly court process that assures that petitioners' invocation of federal court relief is considered before the removal process continues," Goldsmith wrote.
The arrests sparked protests in the Detroit area.
Clarence Dass, an attorney for more than 20 of the detainees, said, "We now have the breathing room to ensure that every individual detained has the proper motions filed and, ultimately, a chance to be heard. The work continues," the Detroit Free Press reported Friday.