Judge halts deportation of mother and daughter, threatens Jeff Sessions with contempt

DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan

A federal judge in Washington, D.C., has threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen in contempt of court if they fail to return a mother and daughter seeking asylum.

The liberal ACLU, accustomed to representing illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers in court, had struck a deal with the DOJ to halt proceedings against the woman, known only as 'Carmen, ' until midnight Thursday.

A Department of Homeland Security official said the agency was complying with the court's order, according to NBC News.

When informed, the Bill Clinton-appointed Judge Sullivan became outraged.

Carmen is one of several witnesses suing the Trump administration after Sessions announced in June that domestic and gang violence were not credible asylum claims.

In a shocking move, Judge Sullivan then ordered that the government "turn the plane around", and bring both Carmen and her child back to the United States immediately. I'm not happy about this at all.


U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan also blocked the Trump administration from deporting eight other immigrants - now held in detention - who are part of the same lawsuit against the government for allegedly wrongfully rejecting their claims for asylum.

But lead ACLU attorney Jennifer Chang Newell - taking part in the Washington court hearing via phone from her California office - got an email saying the mother and daughter were being deported, the paper reported.

"Upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs did not disembark and are now en route back to the United States", the department said in an emailed statement.

She sought police protection in 2016, but they did not protect her and Grace fled Guatemala, because she felt she wouldn't be safe in the country because of her partner and his sons' gang affiliation, according to the suit. The mother and daughter did not disembark in the Central American country. "It's outrageous to me that while we were working around-the-clock filing briefings for this case's early morning hearing that people in the government were actively arranging for Carmen's deportation".

But at the border, the government determined after interviewing her that she did not meet the "credible fear" threshold required to pursue an asylum claim in the U.S., and an immigration judge upheld that decision.

From there, Sessions has argued, asylum-seekers are typically released into the interior of the country while they await hearings, often years away.

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