Judge threatens Sessions with contempt; halts deportation

Clay Curtis
August 12, 2018

A plane carrying the mother-daughter pair landed in El Salvador but they returned to the United States on another flight. The judge commanded the government to escort the two back at once.

During court, Sullivan was incensed at the report that one of the plaintiffs was in the process of being deported, according to the ACLU and The Washington Post.

"He said something like, 'I'm going to issue an order to show cause why I shouldn't hold the government in contempt, I'm going to start with the attorney general, ' " Chang Newell said, explaining that Sullivan was suggesting he would issue an order that would require the government to explain why they didn't deserve to be held in contempt.

President Donald Trump and top officials have criticized existing protections for asylum-seekers, arguing they allow too many people to stay in the USA under the claim they suffer persecution at home.

Successful applicants typically enter the country to flee persecution due to their race, religion, nationality or political views.

The ACLU said later that government attorneys confirmed to them after the hearing that the pair was on a flight en route to El Salvador.

He said the changes were meant to get the asylum system back to its original intent of providing protections to those fleeing government persecution for their race, religion, political beliefs or membership in some other protected class.

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"This is pretty outrageous", Sullivan said, according to The Washington Post.

Carmen fled El Salvador in June with her daughter, claiming they received violent threats from gang members. The ACLU is claiming the two aliens from El Salvador, known in court documents only by the mother's pseudonym "Carmen", are "asylum seekers" despite their claim's failure to pass even the initial "credible fear" test conducted by Customs and Border Patrol.

In changing the standards for seeking asylum, Sessions said in June that 'the mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes, such as domestic violence or gang violence, or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, can not itself establish an asylum claim'. New "expedited removal" policies put forth by Attorney General Jeff Sessions instruct asylum officers to "generally" deny such claims, undermining the fundamental human rights of women and contradicting decades of settled domestic and global law. So far, there's been no reaction from the Justice Department.

A Homeland Security Department official later told The Wall Street Journal that hours later the mother-daughter duo were on American soil again.

The Justice Department said they would be flown back to Texas and returned to the detention center after landing, the ACLU said. The immigrants were deported ahead of a scheduled hearing with the court on Thursday. She was also threatened by a gang that held her at gunpoint and demanded a monthly "tax", the suit said.

If Sessions' memo stands, the lawsuit argues, people "desperately seeking safety will be unlawfully deported to places where they fear they will be raped, kidnapped, beaten, and killed".

But first an asylum officer and later an immigration judge rejected the asylum petition. The judge imposed a halt Thursday on deporting Carmen, her daughter and six other plaintiffs.

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