Law firm provides emergency pro bono services to families threatened with deportation back to Iraq

Jaffe Raitt Heuer & Weiss jumped into action this week to provide pro bono legal services to 15 Southeast Michigan families with loved ones arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents and sentenced with deportation back to Iraq.

"Our associate Justin Hanna, a member of the Chaldean community, presented us with an immediate need to mobilize our immigration practice group," said Jaffe CEO William Sider. "With the volunteer assistance of 25 attorneys and paralegals from other specialties in the firm, our team collectively provided support for those families in need of protecting their loved ones from life-threatening deportation."

Last weekend, 140-160 Iraqi nationals from the Metro Detroit area were arrested as a part of the Trump administration's push to increase immigration enforcement. A number of these residents have lived in the U.S. for many years - some for their entire lives. Dozens of Iraqi Chaldean Catholics were among those targeted in the immigration sweeps, with the fear of death or torture if deported to their origin country due to their religious beliefs.

"One of the firm's foundational pillars is engaging in and giving back to the local community," said Sider. "We are leveraging our immigration and legal expertise to make every effort toward helping these families navigate the legal complexities of this unfortunate situation."

Jaffe attorneys and paralegals have committed a great deal of time preparing documents and interviewing family members whose loved ones are being detained by ICE. Motions were filed Thursday for a stay of deportation, a reopening of the immigration cases of the affected individuals, and avoidance to deportation due to claims under the Convention Against Torture Act. After working through Wednesday night and into the early morning hours of Thursday, Jaffe flew an attorney to Falls Church, Virginia, Thursday morning to submit before the deportations were initiated, a portion of the motions to the Board of Immigration Appeals. The rest of the motions were filed in Detroit, Atlanta and Kansas City Immigration Courts Thursday afternoon.

"We are extremely appreciative of the extraordinary efforts made by Jaffe in helping us with this demanding legal challenge," said Nora Youkhana, board member of CODE Legal Aid, a local nonprofit helping those families affected by the incident. "We could not have done this without Jaffe's immediate help and for that we are very grateful."

Published: Thu, Jun 22, 2017