Judge halts mother-daughter deportation, threatens to hold Sessions in contempt

The ACLU is suing Jeff Sessions over the Trump administration’s asylum policies

A federal judge ordered the government to return an asylum-seeking mother and her daughter to the U.S. after the Trump administration revealed in a Thursday court hearing that they had sent the migrants to Central America while the court was still considering their case.

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. Turn that plane around and bring those people back to the United States'.

A federal judge stopped an in-progress deportation Thursday and threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt after learning a plane carrying a mother and daughter was airborne and headed to El Salvador - all while a hearing appealing their deportations was taking place.

The ACLU's lawsuit, where they represent Carmen and 11 other people from Central American countries, is based on a claim that the administration is unfairly preventing people from seeking asylum and not allowing them to have fair hearings.

Mr Sessions introduced tighter immigration rules in June and victims of domestic abuse and gang violence no longer generally qualify for USA asylum.

The woman, identified only as Carmen, and her daughter had been scheduled to be deported, but the government agreed to postpone their removal until Thursday night so an appeal of the decision could be heard in court, the Washington Post reported.

Carmen fled El Salvador in June with her daughter, claiming they received violent threats from gang members.

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Activists rally against the Trump administration's immigration policies outside the New York City offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in July.

"We are thrilled the stay of removal was issued but sickened that the government deported two of our clients - a mom and her little girl - in the early morning hours", said the ACLU's lead attorney on the case, Jennifer Chang Newell. Several coworkers at the factory where Carmen worked had been murdered, and her husband is also abusive, the records state.

Under the fast-track removal system, created in 1996, asylum seekers are interviewed to determine whether they have a "credible fear" of returning home.

In June, the Trump administration determined that fleeing domestic violence and gang violence would no longer be accepted as a means for refuge in the United States.

"In its rush to deport as many immigrants as possible, the Trump administration is putting these women and children in grave danger of being raped, beaten, or killed", her statement read.

But their case was halted when officers found they did not have a "credible fear of persecution".

Asylum seekers previously had to show that the government in their native country was "unable or unwilling" to protect them.

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