Civil rights groups accuse Trump administration of illegally holding asylum-seekers

Civil rights groups accuse Trump administration of illegally holding asylum-seekers
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The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on Thursday filed a lawsuit accusing the Trump administration of illegally detaining asylum-seekers without giving them sufficient parole considerations.

The class-action suit was filed in federal court on behalf of 12 asylum-seekers who are being held in detention centers, the groups said in a statement. 

The groups claimed in their lawsuit that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) New Orleans field office, which covers Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee, "engages in sham parole reviews and blanket denials of parole."

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"Defendants’ policy and practice of denying parole in nearly all cases is causing the Plaintiffs and proposed class members numerous irreparable harms, including subjecting them to arbitrary and prolonged detention," the suit's complaint said. 

The groups said in court that the field office granted only two of 130 release requests last year. 

They are asking the judge to determine that the "the New Orleans ICE policy and practice is arbitrary, capricious and contrary to law" and prevent their clients and others from being detained without parole reviews and "individualized determinations" that they are flight risks or dangers to the community. 

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) “has denied parole across the board, even when people have solid asylum cases and satisfy the legal requirements,” a statement from the groups said.

“Like hundreds of people being held in multiple ICE detention centers in the Deep South, our asylum-seeking plaintiffs are being punished for following the law,” SPLC Senior Supervising Attorney Luz Virginia Lopez said in a statement. “They followed the legal checklist by first presenting themselves at a point of entry, and this is how America is paying them back – with cruelty and disrespect for the law.”

The organizations also accused the administration of "excessive use of solitary confinement" and providing inadequate health care in the lawsuit, according to the statement.

The suit's complaint also details conditions the 12 migrants have experienced in detention. Lawyers allege that one woman has been placed in "prolonged periods of solitary confinement against her will" because she is transgender.

Lopez told The Hill in a Friday interview that the situation is an “affront to ... the core values of the United States.”

“Our plaintiffs are the poster children of who should qualify for asylum,” she said.

The Department of Justice declined a request for comment. DHS did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Updated: May 31 at 5:28 p.m.