A district judge in California blocked the federal government from deporting a group of Cambodians who were detained after a series of Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids within the past few months.
On Thursday, Judge Cormac J. Carney granted a temporary restraining order against the removal of the individuals, most of whom are refugees. The decision comes after the Cambodian government issued 78 travel documents for their deportation.
The restraining order was granted just before a group of 50 detainees was set to fly to Cambodia, according to Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, a civil rights nonprofit that joined other groups to file for the order.
“The deportation flight had been scheduled to leave today from El Paso,” Kevin Lo, an immigration attorney with the nonprofit, told HuffPost in an email on Monday. “So families were preparing themselves to say goodbye.”
The civil rights groups hoped the order would pause the deportations and give those affected some time to reopen their deportation cases, Lo told HuffPost.
“Given the speed with which the Government intends to remove Petitioners,” Carney wrote, “the Court finds that a temporary restraining order is necessary to stay removal until the Court can give proper consideration to the complex issues presented in this action.”
The additional time also will allow families of detainees to put together support letters or further documentation that may help them stay in the country.
Most of the 100 Cambodian refugees who were detained have criminal records and had received final orders of removal, but then received what are called orders of supervision. Those allowed them to live in the U.S. while regularly checking in with ICE. Advocates for the detainees say many had gone decades without further contact with the criminal justice system. ICE then unexpectedly detained many of them during their regular check-ins with the agency.
While 50 Cambodian detainees had been set to be deported on Monday, an additional 28 were to be deported in late December or January, Lo told HuffPost.
Many of the refugees are still being held at an ICE facility in West Texas, though some have been transported to facilities closer to their place of arrest. They are awaiting the next hearing on the case, which is scheduled for Jan. 11.
Civil rights groups have also filed a lawsuit against ICE arguing that the detentions are illegal and “indiscriminate.” That suit is still pending.