Judge orders plane carrying deported mother, daughter to turn around

Leroy Wright
August 12, 2018

A federal judge ordered U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the secretary of homeland security to personally appear before him if the government fails to return a mother and her daughter who were deported to El Salvador while the judge was considering their fate.

It all stems back to a mother, known in court filings as only "Carmen".

The fast-track removal system, created in 1996, has asylum-seekers interviewed to determine if they have a "credible fear" of returning to their home countries, the paper said, adding that those who pass get a full hearing in immigration court. The government, he learned, had just deported an immigrant mother and daughter who are plaintiffs in the lawsuit the judge was hearing over family separations.

District Judge Emmet Sullivan had been assured the pair would not be deported to El Salvador before midnight Thursday. 'Someone seeking justice in USA court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?' the judge asked.

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

But the ACLU said they had learned during Thursday's emergency hearing that the mother and daughter had already been put on a flight back to El Salvador by U.S. authorities.

The lawsuit, involving a dozen asylum-seekers - Carmen and her daughter, the eight still in custody, and four others who have also already been removed - was filed Tuesday by the ACLU and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.

The lawsuit challenges Attorney General Jeff Sessions decision to exclude domestic and gang violence as reasons for immigrants to be granted asylum.

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Officials reportedly said the plane was on its way back to the US later in the day.

According to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Sullivan's order meant the taxpayer wound up paying for a needless round-trip flight.

The Justice Department declined a request for comment, the Post reported.

Sessions ruled in June that asylum is generally not available to people fleeing violence by private rather than government actors.

In June, the Trump administration determined that fleeing domestic violence and gang violence would no longer be accepted as a means for refuge in the United States. In the suit, Grace said her partner of 22 years, and his two gang member sons from another relationship, repeatedly beat and threatened to kill her and her children. The case is part of an ongoing legal battle over asylum claims.

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.

The lawsuit says Sessions's ruling, and updated guidelines for asylum officers that the Department of Homeland Security issued a month later, subject migrants in expedited removal proceedings to an "unlawful screening standard" that deprives them of their rights under federal law.

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