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PNS Weekend Newscast - September 23rd, 2017 


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TN Kurdish Community Gets Relief from Deportations

Nashville's Kurdish community is getting at least temporary relief from the threat of deportation, thanks to a court order. (John Lamb/flickr.com)
Nashville's Kurdish community is getting at least temporary relief from the threat of deportation, thanks to a court order. (John Lamb/flickr.com)
June 29, 2017

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Kurds and other Iraqi nationals living in parts of Tennessee have at least a brief reprieve this week from the threat of deportation.

A federal court in Michigan blocked the immediate deportation of Iraqi individuals – many of whom have been here for more than a decade because of threats in their home country.

Thomas Castelli, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee, says the abrupt order to send them back to Iraq is turning lives upside down.

"Many of them have been living in the United States under supervision by the federal government for decades,” he states. “A lot of them have spouses that are U.S. citizens, children that are U.S. citizens, they have businesses. These families are kind of being torn apart by deportations."

According to reports, at least 15 community members in the Nashville area have been sent back to Iraq, but there is no official report from immigration officials.

Nationwide, 200 have been deported, and advocates are concerned many of them will face threats to their lives in their home country.

Earlier this month, Nashville Mayor Megan Barry asked Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials to stop posing as police when they enter into the Kurdish community to collect people for deportation.

Castelli says for many, Tennessee is the only home they've ever known and where they pay taxes and contribute to the community.

"These are people who have been in these communities,” he stresses. “They've been under these orders of supervision for years. They’ve been complying with them. They've built lives here. They're either employees and working for someone, or they run their own business."

Kurdish community members in Nashville say they fear being killed by ISIS if they return to Iraq.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN