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Michigan ACLU Files Motion Accusing ICE Officers Of Threats And Coercion Against Iraqi Detainees

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The ACLU of Michigan wants a Detroit judge to order immigration authorities to stop coercive tactics against Iraqi immigrants in its custody.  The immigrants face deportation orders for crimes – usually committed years ago.

The ACLU said the federal immigration officers are threatening and harassing the detainees.  They say the officers want the detainees to say, in writing, that they want to return to Iraq. 

According to the motion filed by the ACLU, the officers tell the detainees if they don’t sign the document, they will be criminally prosecuted and detained indefinitely.  The ACLU goes on to explain that Iraq appears to only take in nationals that affirm they want to be in the country.

“You can’t make it a crime to say I want to be with my family,” said Miriam Aukerman, an ACLU attorney.  She said in many cases are Christians who face religious persecution or other retribution if they return.

“It’s incredibly coercive,” she said.  “It’s incredibly damaging to these individuals.  It preys on their fears, on what they face, being locked up away from their families.”

Aukerman said multiple detainees have already signed the document.  She said the ACLU wants the judge to make sure they can see their clients so they can review the document with them and make sure they actually want to return to Iraq, if they signed it.

“The detainees are making decisions based on threats and coercion rather than being fully informed,” she said.  “So we need to make sure we have access to our clients to counter this misinformation and abuse with accurate information.”

The judge will hold an emergency hearing on the motion Monday.

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—Cheyna Roth is a reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org

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