Federal judge sides with asylum seekers over detention periods

A federal judge in Washington state ruled Friday that certain asylum seekers must be given a bond hearing before an immigration judge within seven days of requesting the hearing or be released.

District Judge Marsha Pechman wrote that the detention of asylum seekers for indefinite periods of time could cause irreparable harm.


She ordered the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to be responsible for proving certain asylum seekers could pose a danger to the community if released, instead of putting the onus on asylum seekers to prove they are not dangerous.

The ruling came the same day that President TrumpDonald John TrumpObama slams Trump in Miami: 'Florida Man wouldn't even do this stuff' Trump makes his case in North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin Pence's chief of staff tests positive for COVID-19 MORE visited the southern border to view part of his border wall. He spoke out against current policies for those seeking asylum, saying that the answer for both migrants looking to be granted asylum and undocumented immigrants is: “I’m sorry, we’re full.”

Pechman's order stemmed from a lawsuit initially challenging the Trump administration's separation of migrant families at the border — which has since been ended — under the "zero tolerance" policy implemented last year by former Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsBiden fact checks Trump on 545 families separated at border, calls policy 'criminal' Harris walks fine line on Barrett as election nears The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Trump's erratic tweets upend stimulus talks; COVID-19 spreads in White House MORE.

The lawsuit has since been amended to allege that asylum seekers are being detained for weeks or months at a time.

DHS has disputed those allegations in court.

The agency now requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while their cases are processed in the U.S.

Pechman, a Clinton appointee, used the ruling to criticize the Trump administration’s policies.

She wrote that asylum seekers are being forced to “accept their indeterminate detention and receive bond hearings at the Government’s pleasure with a reversed and inequitable burden of proof and procedural deficiencies,” or “give up their asylum claim and allow themselves to be deported back to a homeland where they have already been found to have a credible fear or injury or death.”

“The Constitution does not require these Plaintiffs to endure such a no-win scenario,” she added.

Updated at 6:40 p.m.