Judge blasts asylum seeker’s detention in ruling seen as rebuke of Trump's policies

A federal judge said the government violated the due process rights of an asylum seeker after he was detained for nearly three years without a bail hearing.

The ruling was seen by legal experts as a stern rebuke of the Trump administration’s immigration policies, according to The New York Times.

“This nation prides itself on its humanity and openness with which it treats those who seek refuge at its gates,” Judge Alvin Hellerstein of federal District Court wrote in his opinion, the Times reported. 

“By contrast, the autocracies of the world have been marked by harsh regimes of exclusion and detention,” he continued. “Our notions of due process nourish the former spirit and brace us against the latter.”

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Hellerstein, who was appointed by former President Clinton, went on to say that the due process rights of the asylum seeker, Adou Kouadio, had been violated after he was detained for 34 months without a bail hearing.

Hellerstein ruled that Kouadio’s detention without an opportunity for a bail hearing was too long and added that the 43-year-old is now entitled to such a hearing within the next 14 days.

“His right to liberty is as valuable to him as it is to any U.S. citizen, and he has a constitutional right to a bail hearing that should no longer be denied to him,” Hellerstein wrote, according to the Times.

Kouadio, who is from the Ivory Coast, reportedly arrived at the southern border seeking asylum in 2016.

Kouadio said he had fled his homeland after receiving threats from backers of Ivory Coast’s president after supporting his political opponent.

According to the Times, the Supreme Court ruled in February that migrants being held in detention centers were not entitled to periodic bail hearings, even in cases where a person had been detained for years.

However, as the newspaper notes, the high court did not rule at the time if the Constitution required such hearings and later sent the case to a lower court for consideration.

Hellerstein said that Kouadio’s situation “presents the constitutional question” that the Supreme Court left unanswered, which is “whether an indefinitely lengthy detention of a nonresident alien seeking asylum without a bond hearing violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment.”

Many legal experts told the Times that the ruling was significant given the message it sends to the Trump administration about due process.

Lucas Guttentag, who previously served as a top adviser in the Department of Homeland Security under the Obama administration, told the Times the ruling meant that “asylum applicants at our border are constitutionally entitled to due process and cannot be jailed for years without any hearing.” 

Stephen Legomsky, who previously served as the former chief counsel for U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under former President Obama, also told the Times he found the ruling to be an “implicit criticism” of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rips Dems' demands, impeachment talk: 'Witch Hunt continues!' Nevada Senate passes bill that would give Electoral College votes to winner of national popular vote The Hill's Morning Report - Pelosi remains firm despite new impeachment push MORE’s immigration policies “in the sense that it is a clear rejection of the administration’s preference for long-term detention of asylum seekers.”