U.S. judge turns plane around, halts deportation

Judge orders government to turn around deportation plane

Courtesy of ICE

A federal judge threatened on Thursday to hold top Trump administration officials in contempt of court if the government does not bring back a mother and daughter who were put on a plane to El Salvador at the same time that he was hearing arguments in court about why the family should be allowed to stay in the U.S.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said the government appeared to have "spirited away" the woman and her child.

"That 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, " the judge said, according to the Post. "This is not acceptable".

"In compliance with the court's order, upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs did not disembark and were promptly returned to the United States", a U.S. Department of Homeland Security official said Thursday evening, the paper reported.

Carmen fled El Salvador with her daughter in June fearing they would be killed by gang members who demanded she pay them each month or suffer consequences, the Post said, citing court records.

Attorneys for the civil rights organization and the U.S. Department of Justice had agreed to delay removal proceedings for Carmen until 11:59 p.m. Thursday so they could argue the matter in court.

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The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of 12 migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala - three of them children - all of whom failed their initial "credible fear" interviews.

Jennifer Chang Newell, managing attorney with the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said in a statement that the administration's actions were putting immigrants in "grave danger". "We will not rest until our clients are returned to safety". Some of Carmen's friends and co-workers have already been murdered, the ACLU claims.

The Trump administration's position is that many asylum-seekers are gaming the system by exaggerating their fear of returning home. The immigrants were deported ahead of a scheduled hearing with the court on Thursday.

Named in the ACLU's lawsuit are Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Cissna and Executive Office for Immigration Review Director James McHenry.

Earlier this year, the Justice Department made it more hard for immigrants claiming to be victims of domestic or gang violence to get asylum. New "expedited removal" policies put forth by Attorney General Jeff Sessions instruct asylum officers to "generally" deny such claims, undermining the fundamental human rights of women and contradicting decades of settled domestic and global law.

As Carmen is with a child, and, therefore, can not be held in a typical facility for adults or separated from her child under current policy, it is likely they will be released into the American interior, free, despite having failed their credible fear determination. If so, they get that chance; if not, they are quickly removed from the United States, according to the ACLU.

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