Judge Halts Deportation, Warns Jeff Sessions

Judge stops in-progress deportation of mother and daughter threatens to hold Sessions in contempt

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan also blocked the Trump administration from deporting eight other immigrants - now held in detention - who are part of the same lawsuit against the government for allegedly wrongfully rejecting their claims for asylum.

The Justice Department had agreed to delay proceedings to deport a woman identified as Carmen and her daughter until just before midnight tonight to argue the case in court.

"I'm not happy about this at all", the judge continued. "This is not acceptable".

But despite the government's guarantee, Sullivan learned from the American Civil Liberties Union in open court that the two had been removed from the Dilley South Texas Family Residential Center.

The Trump administration has argued that traffickers see the "credible fear" test as a loophole that allows them to get their human cargo into the United States, so long as they can memorize the right things to say.

The judge expressed outrage, ordering the plane be turned around, suggesting the government be held in contempt starting with the attorney general, and saying it was "unacceptable" that someone in pursuit of justice who has alleged a credible fear in a USA court is spirited away while her attorneys argue for her in court. But according to the ACLU's Jennifer Chang Newell, the pair was moved to an airport in preparation for being deported in the morning, which would have been after the end of the agreement with the government. The group excoriated the administration for the new policy.

That's when Judge Sullivan gave the order to "turn that plane around" and stop the deportation.

The attorney for the US DOJ, Erez Reuveni, could not confirm where Carmen and her daughter actually were at the time. That decision was followed by implementation guidance from the Department of Homeland Security that nearly immediately began turning away potentially thousands of asylum seekers at the southern border.

Image source You Tube screenshot
Image source You Tube screenshot

'Upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs didn't disembark and are now en route back to the United States.' the official said while they were in mid-air. "It's outrageous to me that while we were working around-the-clock filing briefings for this case's early morning hearing that people in the government were actively arranging for Carmen's deportation".

A Justice Department spokesperson declined to comment on the deportation case when reached by The Hill.

Asylum seekers previously had to show that the government in their native country was "unable or unwilling" to protect them. Several co-workers at the factory where Carmen worked had been murdered, and her husband is also abusive, the paper added, citing records. Those who pass get a full hearing in immigration court.

Homeland Security's "credible fear" policy instructs authorities to deny asylum to immigrants fleeing domestic abuse and gang violence.

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'.

The lawsuit Carmen is involved in included 12 migrants total, three of whom are children.

Sessions has led efforts by the Trump Administration to crack down on illegal immigration, including the adoption of a zero tolerance policy that briefly included separating immigrant parents from their children while they were in US detention.

But Attorney General Jeff Sessions, along with Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and other officials, could face consequences for the government's handling of the case if the judge believes they did not fully comply with his orders.

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