Published: Sun, August 12, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

US judge halts mother-daughter deportation: rights group

US judge halts mother-daughter deportation: rights group

"The level of disrespect for the judiciary, the unprofessionalism of the Justice Department attorneys and the just plain stupidity of the litigation strategy under Jeff Sessions is just simply stunning".

A federal judge on Thursday erupted at the Trump administration when he learned that two asylum seekers fighting deportation were at that moment being deported and on a plane to El Salvador.

Activists rally against the Trump administration's immigration policies outside the New York City offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in July. "We are complying with the court's order, and upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs will not disembark and will be promptly returned to the United States", ICE spokeswoman Justine Whelan said.

The ACLU represents 12 people in the suit, including three children, from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, who had entered the US and sought asylum, but were been denied in a preliminary interview used to establish a "credible fear" of returning home.

Under that policy, which came in the form of a new legal precedent Mr. Sessions issued in June, asylum-seekers can no longer argue that domestic abuse or gang violence in their home countries is sufficient to get on the asylum track.

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.

In a shocking move, Judge Sullivan then ordered that the government "turn the plane around", and bring both Carmen and her child back to the United States immediately.

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Government lawyers later confirmed to the court that the woman and her daughter "were in fact on an airplane while the court was hearing argument on Plaintiffs' Emergency Motion", according to court documents. Carmen also alleged her husband was abusive.

The official did not respond to a request for comment on why the mother and daughter were put on the plane early Thursday in spite of indications, according to the judge, that they would not be deported until 11:59 the earliest. The board found that the woman was a member of a particular social group eligible for asylum - in this case, married women in Guatemala who could not leave their relationship.

The plaintiffs say they have good claims for deserving asylum in the USA, but say they've been denied under the administration's stricter new policy.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department made it more hard for immigrants claiming to be victims of domestic or gang violence to get asylum.

"Upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs did not disembark and are now en route back to the United States", the department said in an emailed statement.

None of the adults had been separated from their children as part of President Donald Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy. When court was in recess in the middle of the hearing, however, an attorney with the ACLU-which is representing them in a lawsuit-received an email notification that Carmen and her child had been taken from the detention center where they had been kept, and were being deported.

A "credible fear" interview is a threshold screening that determines whether there is a "significant possibility" that an immigrant could show they are eligible for asylum in a full hearing with evidence, witnesses, and appeals.

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