Attorney representing more than 100 Iraqi detainees fights to stop deportations

- For the first time, Fox 2 is hearing from an attorney representing the more than 100 Iraqi detainees who are now locked up at a prison in Ohio.

She says they already paid their debt to society and shouldn't be punished for a second time.

Nadine Kalasho, an attorney for Counseling Opportunity Deliverance and Education (CODE) legal aid, was given access to the more than 100 Iraqi nationals detained at a prison in Youngstown, Ohio.

Fearing religious persecution, she along with the ACLU and other immigration rights groups fought to freeze their deportations and won.

Last week she visited with the prisoners to explain Judge Mark Goldsmith's ruling that allows them to stay until the legal process is exhausted.

"That is the number one question, 'are we getting out of here' and that was a hard question for me because I don't know  when that is going to happen," says Kalasho.

"A lot have family members, young children they want to go home to."

Kalasho says the detainees are getting very little information and it is very difficult for their families to make appointments to see them.

Kalasho also claims the officers at the prison are purposely giving the Iraqi nationals false hope.

"We had a lot of complaints that some detainees were being told things to get their hopes up," says Kalasho.

"They would wake up sometimes and they would tell them 'you are going to go home today.'"

But they don't and it's not clear if or when that will happen.

They were targeted because although they were in this country legally, they had committed crimes.

"I understand that they paid their debt to society," says Kalasho. "All of them have served time, so it is almost like you are punishing them twice."

Kalasho has been informed Governor Rick Snyder is reviewing some of the cases of the individuals to see if anything can be done on a state level.

Although immigration and customs enforcement has discretion, it's ultimately going to be up to the immigration judges who will hear these cases and decide the fate of those who could be forced to wait this out for years.

"I am hoping the immigration judges who see this first hand, see what is at stake, all these people face some sort of persecution if they were to go back," says Kalasho. "I hope there is some pressure for them to review this before we send them to a place like that."

Kalasho says a few detainees have been released because of extreme medical conditions.  The facility wasn't equipped for them. 

As for the rest, right now it is a waiting game.

 

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