A federal district court judge ruled Monday that the Trump administration must consider on an individual basis whether immigrants who come to the U.S. seeking asylum represent a flight risk or a danger to their community before they can be detained if they've proven a credible fear of persecution.
Judge James Boasberg, on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) from arbitrarily detaining asylum seekers.
The order stems from a class-action lawsuit the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed on behalf of asylum seekers who have been denied parole even though Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials found they had a credible claim of persecution in their home countries, which is the first step toward gaining asylum status.
The ACLU argued that DHS violated its own parole directive, immigration law and the Constitution in an effort to deter other asylum seekers from coming to the country.
In his ruling, Boasberg said he was ordering DHS to follow a policy the government admitted it was required to follow.
“To mandate that ICE provide these baseline procedures to those entering our country — individuals who have often fled violence and persecution to seek safety on our shores — is no great judicial leap,” he said. “Rather, the issuance of injunctive relief in this case serves only to hold defendants accountable to their own governing policies and to ensure that plaintiffs receive the protections they are due under the Parole Directive.”
In the lawsuit, ACLU argued DHS had created a blanket policy of detaining asylum seekers at ICE field offices in Detroit; El Paso, Texas; Los Angeles; Newark, N.J. and Philadelphia.
The civil rights group hailed the court for its ruling Monday.
“This ruling means the Trump administration cannot use indefinite detention as a weapon to punish and deter asylum seekers,” Michael Tan, senior staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement.
DHS said as a policy it does not comment on pending litigation.
The Department of Justice also declined to comment.
—Updated at 6:50 p.m.