ACLU challenges Trump administration’s arbitrary detention of asylum seekers

ACLU challenges Trump administration’s arbitrary detention of asylum seekers

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed [complaint] a federal lawsuit against the Trump administration Thursday for its “arbitrary detention” of asylum seekers.

All of the plaintiffs named in the case are asylum seekers fleeing persecution, torture or death in their home countries. All of them have also passed fear screenings, meaning that their fear of persecution in their home countries has been determined to be credible by a US asylum officer. After passing this screening, an individual seeking asylum is entitled a hearing before an immigration judge in order to adjudicate the claim. Typically, several months pass before an asylum seeker receives a decision on their asylum claim. During this time, it must be determined whether the asylum seeker should be detained or released in the meantime. Those who do not pose a flight risk or a danger may receive parole while awaiting their decision.

According to the Parole Directive released by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) [official website], “absent exceptional overriding factors, an asylum seeker who has established a credible fear of persecution should be granted parole … if the individual (a) establishes his or her identity to the satisfaction of DHS; and (b) presents neither a flight risk nor danger to the community.” This Parole Directive is still in effect today.

However, since the Trump administration took office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) [official website] field offices in Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Newark and Philadelphia have denied parole in virtually all cases. Therefore, they are now violating the Parole Directive, and the ACLU has filed suit against them.