Deportations of criminal non-citizens must be carried out swiftly or they end up staying in the U.S. forever.
Gov. Rick Snyder pardoned on Friday five Iraqi immigrants with criminal records the U.S. government wanted to deport.
“We’re ecstatic,” said Bill Swor, attorney for Usama Hamama of West Blooomfield, one of the five Iraqi immigrants pardoned by Snyder and the lead plaintiff in a lawsuit filed last year by the ACLU opposing the deportations.
“These are people who have worked very hard to prove that one mistake does not define their life. We’re grateful for Gov. Snyder for recognizing that effort and that achievement and taking the steps to correct it.”
Hamama had been convicted for threatening someone with a gun during a road incident in 1988, while the four other Iraqi immigrants pardoned had been convicted of drug-related crimes, according to state records and attorneys.
Last year, attorneys for the Iraqi immigrants asked Snyder for pardons so they could get their criminal records removed and thus avoid deportation. Immigrants can be deported if they have certain criminal convictions.
In early 2017, the U.S. government said it had reached an agreement with the Iraqi government to deport Iraqi immigrants with criminal records. About 1,400 Iraqi nationals in the U.S. could be affected.
The attorney for the pardoned Iraqis celebrated Friday, but cautioned that it doesn’t mean the Iraqis are automatically blocked from being deported.
“Nothing is automatic,” Swor said. “So we have to go back in immigration court and file a request that the immigration court dismiss the case because the conviction no longer exists. We hope that they will recognize that and honor the language of the statue and dismiss the case. If not, we’re prepared to litigate it.”
Hamama, 55, was found guilty by a jury in 1988 of felonious assault, possession of a firearm during a felony, and carrying a gun in a vehicle, during a road incident. He was sentenced to two years and has been facing deportation proceedings since 1992.
Along with hundreds of other Iraqis, he was arrested last year and told he would be deported as part of the Trump administration’s efforts to toughen immigration enforcement.
ICE has maintained the Iraqis already had final orders of removal by immigration judges and they posed threats because of their criminal records, which ranged from more serious crimes like homicide to minor ones like drug possession.
Another of the five Iraqi immigrants who was pardoned by Snyder is Haydar Butris, of Sterling Heights, a married father with children. He was arrested by ICE in front of his family in June 2017. Butris had a conviction for selling marijuana decades ago. In 1998, Butris was caught with several pounds of marijuana in Oakland County and pleaded guilty in 1999 to marijuana delivery. Butris was not a citizen and so faced potential deportation because of a felony conviction.
The other three Iraqi immigrants slated for deportation who were pardoned are Alaa Toma, Atheer Gappi, and Bashar Yousif, all of whom were convicted earlier of drug-related crimes, state records show.
“This is a great Christmas present for these guys,” Dass said. “A great way to spend the holidays.”
Snyder’s decision is the latest development this week in an ongoing case since the ACLU filed their lawsuit in June 2017. Earlier this week, ICE released a statement blasting the Iraqis as serious criminals as they released about 100 Iraqi immigrants on the orders of U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith of Detroit. The deadline to release them was Thursday.
Also on Thursday, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned two earlier decisions by Judge Goldsmith that had blocked the deportations and gave the Iraqis individual bond hearings.
The case will now be sent back to Goldsmith. The ACLU said it is reviewing the appeals court decision.
Not so great for American citizens who have to deal with these criminals.
Remember, judge Goldsmith is the judge who creates his courtroom law “out of thin air”:
PS: The pardoning of criminal illegal aliens is happening nationwide:
In New York: Cuomo pardons 29 facing deportation