Appeals court rules against Trump administration on indefinite detention of asylum-seekers

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled against the Trump administration’s policy allowing for the indefinite detention of certain asylum-seekers, saying a lower court ruling temporarily blocking it can remain in place.

In the ruling, the judges said the Department of Justice did not make a “persuasive showing that it will suffer irreparable harm if it is required to provide bond hearings pending the outcome of this appeal in the same way it had done for several years.”

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However, the appeals court did not allow a district judge’s order requiring the government to release some asylum-seekers within a certain amount of time after immigration proceedings begin, saying it “would impose short-term hardship for the government and its immigration system."

Barr first issued the order earlier this year, determining that asylum-seekers who pass a "credible fear" test and go on to full deportation proceedings aren't entitled to bond hearings.

But Judge Marsh Pechman, a Clinton appointee in federal court in Seattle, ruled earlier this month that policy is unconstitutional and blocked it from being enforced.

The three-judge panel on the 9th Circuit — Carter appointees Judges Mary Schroeder and William Canby as well as Judge Morgan Christen, an Obama appointee — declined to place a stay on Pechman's ruling.

"The government failed to show a likelihood of success on the merits of its underlying argument that the government may indefinitely detain the plaintiffs without affording bond hearings at all," Monday's order reads.

Pechman had also ruled earlier this year that the Trump administration must take several steps in regard to asylum-seekers who are detained during immigration proceedings, including that certain migrants should be released if they are not granted a hearing within seven days of those proceedings beginning.

But the judges said that lawyers for the Trump administration showed that those requirements would be "too burdensome," and temporarily halted the order as the full appeal of Pechman's ruling plays out.

The appeals court is set to rule on the policies further, and Monday's order asked that arguments be scheduled in the case for October of this year.

The Trump administration was critical of Pechman's ruling against Barr's asylum policy, with White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham saying in a statement that the order is "at war with the rule of law."

On Monday officials said they were pleased the panel partially granted the government's request.

"Unfortunately, in the same decision, the Ninth Circuit also allowed a radical decision from a district judge to go into effect during the pendency of the government’s appeal, which had held unconstitutional a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act," said Deputy Press Secretary Steven Groves in a statement. "Based on the unprecedented theory that illegal aliens who recently entered the country have a constitutional right to be released on bond into the United States, the district court struck down a statute passed by bipartisan majorities in Congress during the Clinton administration specifically requiring certain aliens to be detained pending their asylum proceedings."

He said the administration expected to ultimately prevail in the appeal.

The 9th Circuit's ruling comes as the Trump administration seeks to implement tighter restrictions on asylum.

Trump officials announced last week that they would not accept asylum claims from migrants who pass through another country while traveling to the U.S.'s southern border, with limited exceptions. That rule is currently being challenged in a pair of federal courts.

-- Updated at 11 p.m.