In a ruling that the White House said was “at war with the rule of law,” a federal judge has halted a Trump Administration policy order that allowed for the indefinite detention of people who came to the U.S. to seek asylum, ABC News reports..
The nationwide injunction issued by Seattle District Judge Marsha Pechman puts a hold on Attorney General William Barr’s order from April. As part of the original order, U.S. authorities would deny bond hearings to some migrants detained for being in the U.S. illegally, even if the migrants had established a “credible fear” claim regarding conditions in their country of origin. However, before AG Barr’s order in April, an applicant who met that standard could remain in the U.S. and not be detained while their asylum application was pending, and this policy had been in place since 2005.
“It is the finding of this Court that it is unconstitutional to deny these class members a bond hearing while they await a final determination of their asylum request,” Judge Pechman wrote in her order. “The court finds that plaintiffs have established a constitutionally-protected interest in their liberty, a right to due process, which includes a hearing before a neutral decision maker to assess the necessity of their detention and a likelihood of success on the merits of that issue.”
The ruling basically states that the government must grant eligible asylum-seekers a bond hearing within seven days of their initial detention and that if no hearing is held in that period, the detained migrant must be released.
In her ruling, Judge Pechman also took issue with a section of Barr’s policy that left open the possibility that migrants could be re-detained by ICE after being released on bond.
“The Government’s unwillingness to unconditionally assert that Plaintiffs will not be re-detained means that the specter of re-detention looms and these Plaintiffs and many members of their class face the real and imminent threat of bondless and indefinite detention …,” she said.
In response to the ruling, the office of the White House press secretary said in a scathing statement Wednesday morning, “Yesterday, a single, unelected district judge in Seattle issued an injunction that prevents the government from ensuring the detention of those aliens who cross the border unlawfully until the completion of their immigration court proceedings.”
The statement added: “The district court’s injunction is at war with the rule of law. The decision only incentivizes smugglers and traffickers, which will lead to the further overwhelming of our immigration system by illegal aliens. No single district judge has legitimate authority to impose his or her open borders views on the country.”
The Department of Justice is expected to appeal the ruling quickly.