Iraqi refugees in Michigan are removing tethers to avoid deportation

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DETROIT (AP) — Some Iraqi refugees in Michigan are removing GPS tethers to evade immigration officials and deportation before their court cases are heard, according to an attorney representing nearly two dozen refugees.

The men have spent most of their lives in the United States, raising children, working and establishing roots, said Detroit-based lawyer Shanta Driver, national chair of the civil and immigration rights group By Any Means Necessary.

They cut their tethers because they “get to a point of desperation,” said Driver, who represents 23 Iraqi nationals.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan has argued in federal court against repatriation to Iraq, saying refugees face torture or death because of their Christian faith, for having served in the U.S. military or for seeking U.S. asylum.

Ali Al-Sadoon, 33, removed his ankle GPS tracker in July on the day he was to be deported. Al-Sadoon later was arrested at his home in suburban Detroit and is being held in a county jail in northern Michigan. He now faces criminal charges for removing the tether, in addition to removal orders for breaking and entering, for which he was sentenced in 2013.

“The only reason Ali cut his tether was because he was scared,” said his wife, Belqis Florido. “They sentenced him to death.”

ICE officials also arrested Wisam Hamana, 39, of Hazel Park, and Baha Al-Said, 35, of Ann Arbor, after both cut their tethers.

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