SACRAMENTO, Calif. ( Associated Press) – A U.S. immigration judge in California has suspended the deportation of an Iraqi refugee for fear he could be tortured if he is sent back to Iraq to face charges that he is a police officer on behalf of the Islamic State group killed.
Assistant immigration judge Tara Naselow-Nahas ruled in November that Omar Abdulsattar Ameen was eligible for deportation because he lied on his immigration documents, even though a federal judge had earlier denied allegations that he had killed the officer.
But in an order dated last Wednesday, Naselow-Nahas stopped Ameen’s removal to Iraq, where his lawyers argued he would be given a mock trial and executed.
Ameen’s lawyers praised that part of her decision, but said they were disappointed that she did not grant him asylum or change his immigration status. They noted that her finding means she rejected government claims Ameen was involved in terrorism or criminal activities that would have prevented her decision.
David Yost, spokesman for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Administration, declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation.
Both parties can appeal to the Immigration Appeals Board within 30 days of Naselow-Nahas’ ruling.
Ameen fled Iraq to Turkey in 2012. He was granted refugee status in the United States in June 2014 on the grounds that he was a victim of terrorism. He settled as a refugee in the Sacramento, California area with his wife and four children until federal authorities began returning him to Iraq in 2018.
Naselow-Nahas last fall denied allegations that Ameen provided support, engaged in terrorist activities, participated in the damage to another person, or falsely denied that he was a member of the Islamic State of Iraq.
It was tracked down with a ruling in April by U.S. Magistrate Judge Edmund Brennan in Sacramento. He found cellphone evidence showing Ameen was in Turkey in 2014 at the same time he was allegedly killing a police officer in the Iraqi town of Rawah after it fell into the hands of the Islamic State group.
But Naselow-Nahas found that Ameen was lying when he said he had never interacted with various terrorist groups. She found that he was interacting with a cousin who was a member of a terrorist group, and that Ameen was lying when he said his brother was abducted and his father was fatally shot.
Ameen filed a federal lawsuit in January, arguing that he should be released and allowed to remain in the U.S. on the grounds that his legal process was violated by an immigration system piled against him, according to his lawyers and supporters. is.
A trial is set to begin on April 13 in federal court in San Francisco.