Judge orders release of more than 100 Iraqi nationals detained at MI jail

Posted at 4:59 PM, Nov 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-21 11:21:24-05

More than 100 Iraqi nationals, mostly from Michigan, will be released after being detained nearly a year and a half ago awaiting deportation.

On Tuesday, a judge ordered that the detainees must be released in the next 30 days because attorneys, including lawyers for the ACLU, fought for their release, reportedly showing that the United States government had no real process to even deport them, which is why they have been in prison so long.

"Not only that there was no process to send these people back, but also that the government lied about whether or not there was a process and whether Iraq would even be willing to accept these people," Attorney Edward Bajoka said.

"It just seemed hopeless at one point, and now we're able to go to our clients and give them the good news, and hopefully they'll be home before Christmas this year. it's an unexplainable feeling," Attorney Nadine Yosif Kalasho said.

We spoke to Khalid Akrawi who is behind bars in northern Michigan. His wife died shortly before he was locked up and taken to a prison five hours away from his young son, but now, he and the other detainees expect to be soon reunited with their families.

"I was very excited and I was shocked," Akrawi said. "You know, I really didn't know this day would come. It's been a long time."

According to Bajoka, most of the people affected by this are people who are of minority religions in Iraq and would face serious persecution or death if they were to be deported back there.