Published: Sat, August 11, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

US migrants: Judge orders deportation plane turnaround

US migrants: Judge orders deportation plane turnaround

"Turn the plane around", U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said in court, telling Justice Department lawyers, "This is not acceptable", according to the Washington Post.

"This is pretty outrageous that someone seeking justice in US court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her", Sullivan said.

The ACLU said the government had on Wednesday assured the court that no plaintiff in the case would be deported before midnight on Thursday.

"This is pretty outrageous", Sullivan said, according to the Post. I'm not happy about this at all.

The lawsuit asks the judge to invalidate Sessions' June 11 decision to restrict the kinds of cases that qualify for asylum.

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 order issued Thursday stated that the defendants, including Sessions, Nielsen, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service Director Lee Francis Cissna and Executive Office of Immigration Review Director James McHenry, "shall return "Carmen" and her daughter to the United States FORTHWITH".

A Homeland Security Department official later told The Wall Street Journal that hours later the mother-daughter duo were on American soil again. By Thursday evening, the mother and her daughter had landed in El Salvador.

According to the lawsuit, the migrant mother, known under the alias "Carmen", came to the USA with her young daughter after two decades of sexual abuse from her husband and death threats from a local gang in her native El Salvador. "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.

But at the border, the government determined after interviewing her that she did not meet the "credible fear" threshold required to pursue an asylum claim in the U.S., and an immigration judge upheld that decision.

He also ordered the government to stop removing people from the country who are seeking protection from gang and domestic violence.

The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of 12 migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala - eight women, one man and three children. Neither is a "credible fear of persecution".

From there, Sessions has argued, asylum-seekers are typically released into the interior of the country while they await hearings, often years away.

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