Sunday, January 20, 2019

Judge orders Trump Administration to stop detaining asylum seekers

A federal judge ordered the Trump administration yesterday to halt the sudden shift in the way the U.S. deals with certain asylum-seekers who have presented themselves at the border.

Advocacy groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Human Rights First, alleged in a class action lawsuit representing some 800 people that ICE is not following its own policies for offering parole in five of its field offices. Rather than investigating asylum seekers’ requests for parole, ICE is issuing blanket denials and keeping people in detention for months, the groups allege.

The Trump administration denied it had issued a policy change, but data in the lawsuit shows that from 2011 to 2013, the field offices in Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Newark and Philadelphia granted parole to 92 percent of asylum-seekers. However, in the first eight months of Trump’s presidency, that rate dropped to 4 percent.

On Monday, U.S. District Court Judge James E. Boasberg ordered ICE to “do what they already admit is required” and make individualized assessments on whether asylum-seekers should receive parole after they arrive in the U.S.  According to a 2009 Department of Homeland Security directive, unless an asylum-seeker is deemed a flight risk, danger to the community, or cannot establish their identity, they should in most cases receive parole.

While that doesn’t mean they’re free to stay in the U.S. forever, it does allow anyone who followed a legal process to request asylum shouldn’t be jailed indefinitely while awaiting a final determination of their status. Immigrant rights advocates believe the shift in parole determinations is part of a broader effort by the Trump administration to keep asylum-seekers away.

“Instead of treating them with the humanity that our laws require … we instead do things like lock them up, make it harder for them to access due process and get a fair hearing of their claims,” said Stephen Kang, an attorney with the ACLU Immigrants’ Rights Project.

HUFFINGTON POST