Federal judge blocks Trump policy of detaining asylum-seekers indefinitely

Protest in New York against Trump detention policy
(Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman in Seattle blocked a Trump administration policy Tuesday that would have prevented asylum-seekers from requesting bail in front of neutral immigration judges. That policy, announced by Attorney General William Barr in April and set to take effect July 15, would have kept migrants who had successfully demonstrated a credible fear of torture or persecution back home detained in the U.S. for months or years while their asylum claim was processed.

The migrants are entitled to Fifth Amendment due-process protections, including "a longstanding prohibition against indefinite civil detention with no opportunity to test its necessity," Peshman wrote. The government must allow asylum-seekers a bond hearing within seven days of their request, and if that deadline isn't met, the migrant must be released. The national class action was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project. The Justice Department is expected to appeal Peshman's ruling.

To be released on bond, asylum-seekers have to convince an immigration judge they are not flight risks and don't pose a threat to the public, The Associated Press reports. Leaving detention "gives the asylum-seekers an opportunity to reunite with relatives in the U.S. and to find lawyers to handle their asylum claims, making them more likely to succeed." About half of asylum-seekers are released after their bond hearings.

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