• In April Attorney General William Barr issued a directive that would take away bond hearings from asylum-seeking migrants
  • U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled against Barr’s directive calling his decision unconstitutional
  • The Trump administration has made several moves that push indefinite detention for asylum-seeking migrants while they wait for their case to be heard

A federal judge in Seattle ruled on Tuesday that asylum-seeking migrants detained for entering the U.S. illegally have the right to a bond hearing instead of being detained indefinitely until their case is completed.

What Happened

Up until last week the Trump administration was pushing forward with a decision that allowed migrants coming to the U.S. for asylum to be held for an indefinite amount of time while waiting for their cases to be heard. Until a recent decision by the attorney general, migrants who crossed the border between official entry points to request asylum were eligible for bond after proving to asylum officers they had a credible fear of persecution.

In April, Attorney General William Barr issued a directive that prevented some asylum seekers to request bond in front of an immigration judge. The directive expanded the indefinite detention of asylum-seeking migrants who sometimes are forced to wait months or years for their cases to be heard. Barr said asylum-seeking migrants can be held in immigration detention centers until either their case concludes or the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decides to grant them “parole.” DHS does hold the authority to parole people not eligible for bond and frequently use that authority due to insufficient detention space and other human rights issues.

I conclude that such aliens remain ineligible for bond, whether they are arriving at the border or are apprehended in the United States.

Attorney General William Barr

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman

Barr said he would delay his decision for 90 days so “DHS may conduct the necessary operational planning for additional detention and parole decisions.” His directive was undone by U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman who decided it is unconstitutional to indefinitely detain migrants fleeing to the U.S. seeking asylum protections.

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 decision maker to assess the necessity of their detention and a likelihood of success on the merits of that issue.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman

Barr’s policy also opened the door for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to re-detain migrants after being released on bond. Pechman specifically spoke on the issue saying the “Government’s unwillingness to unconditionally assert that Plaintiffs will not be re-detained means that the specter of re-detention looms and these Plaintiffs and many members of their class face the real and imminent threat of bondless and indefinite detention.” The decision added that Barr’s directive in the long run would only aid in giving incentives to human smugglers and add to the further overwhelming of America’s immigration system.

The district court’s injunction is at war with the rule of law. The decision only incentivizes smugglers and traffickers, which will lead to the further overwhelming of our immigration system by illegal aliens. No single district judge has legitimate authority to impose his or her open borders views on the country.

U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman

Currently, the only way for a migrant to request asylum is to come on U.S. soil. Pechman’s decision can be read in full below.


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