On Monday, the Federal District Court for the District of Columbia issued a preliminary injunction halting Trump’s system of arbitrary detention for asylum seekers. The judge ruled that according to a 2009 directive, asylum seekers must be considered for release.
The 2009 directive guarantees that asylum seekers who have shown “credible fear” in an interview should be released from federal detention as they await their trial. In accordance with this directive, Judge James Boasberg ordered the government to interview detained asylum seekers to ensure they are not dangerous to the community before releasing them.
The lawsuit was brought forth by several progressive organizations following a group of asylum seekers being unlawfully detained after passing their credible fear interview and proving they were not threats to public safety.
“This ruling means the Trump administration cannot use indefinite detention as a weapon to punish and deter asylum seekers,” said Michael Tan, a lawyer at the ACLU.
The Trump Administration refers to the parole of asylum seekers while they wait for court hearings as “catch and release” policies. Until Trump took office, 9 out of 10 asylum seekers had been granted parole. Now, that number is about zero.
In five ICE field offices, asylum seekers are being detained indefinitely. These offices are in Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Newark and Philadelphia. In just these districts, over 1000 asylum seekers have been denied parole.
This decision adds depth to the immigration debate sparked after the announcement of Trump’s “zero-tolerance” border policy, a policy that resulted in the separation of thousands of children from their parents at the border. The policy was designed to deter immigrants from coming to the United States.
After public outrage, Trump ended the family separation policy, but allowed these families to be detained at the border indefinitely.
Judge Boasberg acknowledged public outrage over the family separation policy in the opening line of his opinion, “As the events of recent months make clear, the question of how this nation will treat those who come to our shores seeking refuge generates enormous debate.”
Media Resources: New York Times 7/2/18; Al Jazeera 7/2/18; NPR 7/2/18; CNN 7/3/18; Feminist Newswire 6/20/18