Federal Judge Blocks Bill Barr’s ‘Unconstitutional’ Order to Indefinitely Detain Asylum Seekers

A federal judge blocked Attorney General Bill Barr’s order to keep some asylum seekers detained indefinitely Tuesday, The Hill reports.

Washington state U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled that Barr’s order to indefinitely detain asylum seekers while their claims are processed violated that Constitution.

"It is the finding of this Court that it is unconstitutional to deny these class members a bond hearing while they await a final determination of their asylum request," Pechman wrote.

Pechman previously issued an injunction that required asylum-seekers to be released after being granted a hearing. The Trump administration asked her to dismiss that ruling after Barr issued a new order, but she ruled that the new policy violates the law.

The order, which was issued in April, said that asylum-seekers who demonstrate a “credible fear” and are then sent to deportation proceedings cannot be released on bond, overturning a 2005 ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals that allowed asylum seekers to be released on bond if they exhibit of “credible fear” of being returned to their home country.

Judge rejects Barr’s arguments:

Pechman cited a Supreme Court ruling that “definitively established the immigrant detainees’ constitutionally-protected interest in freedom from unnecessary incarceration,” writing that immigrants “are entitled to due process protections” that include a “longstanding prohibition against indefinite civil detention with no opportunity to test its necessity.”

“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 decisionmaker to assess the necessity of their detention, and a likelihood of success on the merits of that issue,” the judge wrote.

Judge: Asylum-seekers face “irreparable harm” under Barr policy

Pechman wrote that the policy would cause “irreparable harm” to asylum-seekers.

“All the harms attendant upon their prolonged detention cited in the original ruling on Plaintiffs’ request for injunctive relief remain applicable here — substandard physical conditions, low standards of medical care, lack of access to attorneys and evidence as Plaintiffs prepare their cases, separation from their families, and re-traumatization of a population already found to have legitimate circumstances of victimization,” she wrote.


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