Immigrant rights groups file legal challenge to Trump asylum policy

 Immigrant rights groups file legal challenge to Trump asylum policy
© Greg Nash

Immigrant rights groups on Thursday filed a legal challenge to a ruling by Attorney General William BarrWilliam Pelham BarrThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump seizes House impeachment vote to rally GOP DOJ, Commerce slam House Dems contempt vote as 'political stunt' White House blasts 'shameful and cynical' Barr, Ross contempt vote MORE that states that asylum-seekers who can demonstrate "credible fear" and are then placed in deportation proceedings will not be eligible for bond

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), American Immigration Council, and Northwest Immigrant Rights Project amended a previous lawsuit to object to the new policy. They said in the class-action suit that the ruling violates the Due Process Clause, the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Administrative Procedure Act.

They also said the policy "exacerbate[s] the harm those fleeing persecution have already suffered by needlessly depriving them of their liberty without adequate review."

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The groups ask the court to ensure that the Trump administration does not interfere with their clients' "right to apply for protection by delaying [their] credible fear interviews and by subjecting them to lengthy detention without prompt bond hearings."

The organizations asked the court to require that asylum-seekers are given credible fear interviews or bond hearings. 

"This policy unconstitutionally strips people of their right to a hearing. Hearings are a critical part of due process and prevent unlawful detention," said the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project senior staff attorney Michael Tan in a statement. 

"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," he added. 

Named in the lawsuit are Barr, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Customs and Border Protection (CBP), U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review, among others. 

The Department of Justice, USCIS and CBP declined to comment. ICE and DHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment. 

Barr last month overturned a 2005 Board of Immigration Appeals ruling that made asylum-seekers who demonstrate that they have credible fear of persecution or danger if they leave the U.S. eligible for bond. He said the new ruling would take place in 90 days. 

Federal Judge Marsha Pechman ruled in early April that indefinite detention of asylum-seekers can cause harm.