A federal judge in Seattle has blocked a Trump administration policy that would keep thousands of asylum seekers locked up while they pursue their cases, saying the United States Constitution demands that such migrants have a chance to be released from custody.
US District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled late on Tuesday that people who are detained after entering the country between official ports of entry to seek protection are entitled to bond hearings.
Attorney General William Barr announced in April that the government would no longer offer such hearings, but instead keep them in custody. It was part of the administration’s efforts to deter a surge of migrants at the US-Mexico border.
Pechman said that as people who have entered the US, they were entitled to the Fifth Amendment’s due-process protections, including “a long-standing prohibition against indefinite civil detention with no opportunity to test its necessity”.
Immigrant rights advocates including the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project sued to block the policy, which was due to take effect on July 15.