According to U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman, it is unconstitutional to indefinitely detain migrants who cross the U.S border seeking asylum protections. Last week, the federal judge ruled that asylum seekers who have been detained have the right to a bond hearing in immigration court instead of being held by the government until their cases are complete.
In April, Attorney General William Barr ordered immigration judges not to release migrants on bail after an applicant successfully establishes "a credible fear of persecution or torture" in the home country. Judge Pechman’s ruling reverses Barr’s 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."
Pechman also criticized sections of Barr's policy that left open the possibility that migrants still awaiting hearings could be re-detained by ICE after they have been released on bond.
The judge said:
"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."
The office of the White House press secretary issued the following response to the ruling:
“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."
Although the ruling is good news for asylum seekers awaiting hearings, recent data shows that there is a widespread shortage of immigration judges that has caused major delays in processing hearings. As of April, the U.S. has 424 judges dealing with a backlog of 892,517 cases on the courts' active dockets.
The Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse reported the following:
"The three largest immigration courts were so under-resourced that hearing dates were being scheduled as far out as August 2023 in New York City, October 2022 in Los Angeles, and April 2022 in San Francisco."
This latest ruling in Seattle is a major victory for immigrants who have been detained at the U.S. border. Our attorneys at Kanu & Associates are here to uphold the rights of our clients and help resolve their immigration matters. Whether you need help seeking asylum or fighting a deportation order, we have the experience and resources that you need to secure a fair case result.
Call (602) 353-7795 today to schedule a consultation with our legal team.