Judge blocks indefinite detention of asylum seekers

A US district court judge ruled on July 1 that the Department of Homeland Security cannot hold migrants seeking asylum indefinitely as was previously ordered by Attorney General William Barr. Judge Marsha Pechman, of the Western District of Washington in Seattle, held that section 235(b)(1)(B)(ii) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which prohibits releasing on bond persons who have been found to have a credible fear of persecution in their home country, violates the US Constitution. Pechman's decision stated that the plaintiffs in the case, Padilla vs ICE, have established that asylum seekers have "a constitutionally protected interest in their liberty" and a "right to due process, which includes a hearing."

Granting a preliminary injunction, Judge Pechman ordered the Department of Homeland Security to arrange for asylum seekers to have a bail hearing within seven days of their initial request. If a hearing is not provided within seven days, then the individual must be released.

The case factors into the Trump administration's attempt to limit the entry of asylum seekers into the US. Judge Pechman noted that the government will likely appeal the decision. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham said, "No single district judge has legitimate authority to impose his or her open borders views on the country." She added that the injunction was "at war with the rule of law."

From Jurist, July 3. Used with permission.

Note: This was one of the Trump administration's several moves to discourage asylum-seekers and steps toward indefinite detention.