Groups Launch Legal Challenge to Trump Administration Policy on Jailing Asylum Seekers

May 2, 2019

SEATTLE— The American Immigration Council, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and The American Civil Liberties Union, filed a proposed amended complaint in federal court today in order to challenge the Trump administration’s new policy that categorically denies bond hearings to asylum seekers.

The policy, announced April 16 by Attorney General William Barr, targets asylum seekers whom immigration officers previously determined have a “credible fear” of persecution or torture if returned to the places they fled.

Many such people currently have the right to a bond hearing where an immigration judge will decide if they should be held or released from custody as their asylum case proceeds. If the new policy goes into effect, they could be jailed indefinitely without a hearing.

The proposed amended complaint, filed in Padilla v. ICE, cites violations of the Due Process Clause, the Immigration and Nationality Act, and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The following comments are from:

Trina Realmuto, directing attorney, American Immigration Council: “Through Attorney General Barr’s unilateral decision to eliminate bond hearings, the administration is once again breaking the law in its crusade to deter and prevent asylum seekers from requesting protection in the United States. We will continue fighting the administration’s use of mass incarceration as a weapon to punish migrants.”

Matt Adams, legal director, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project: “After we challenged the government’s failure to provide timely bond hearings that comport with basic constitutional protections for these asylum seekers, the Department of Justice responded by issuing this new policy purporting to eliminate the bond hearings altogether. We are making clear with this filing that we believe the Constitution requires bond hearings, and the government should not be permitted to use civil detention in this punitive manner.”

Michael Tan, senior staff attorney, ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project: “This policy unconstitutionally strips people of their right to a hearing. Hearings are a critical part of due process and prevent unlawful detention. The administration cannot bypass the Constitution by arbitrarily locking people up. Trump’s true motives are clear — to deter asylum seekers and punish people who apply for protection under our laws.”


For more information, contact:

Maria Frausto at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7526;
Matt Adams at NWIRP, [email protected] or 206-957-8611;
Inga Sarda-Sorensen at ACLU, [email protected] or 347-514-3984. 

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
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