Federal Court Orders that Asylum Seekers Can Move Forward Challenging Delays

Federal Court Orders that Asylum Seekers Can Move Forward Challenging Delays

December 13, 2018

WASHINGTON— A federal district court in Seattle, Washington issued an order rejecting the government’s arguments that recent asylum seekers who enter the United States without immigration status are not entitled to constitutional protections.

U.S. District Court Judge Marsha J. Pechman denied in part the government’s attempt to dismiss a case which challenges practices that keep asylum seekers locked up in detention for extended periods of time. The suit, brought by four asylum seekers, challenges delays in both credible fear interviews and bond hearings.

The plaintiffs are seeking to represent a nationwide class of asylum applicants who are subjected to a prolonged stay in detention while waiting for their initial asylum screenings, and then for their bond hearings in front of an immigration judge. All four plaintiffs were detained for six to eight weeks before they were finally given an interview with an asylum officer. They then faced additional delays in detention before they received bond hearings.

The lawsuit also challenges the government’s denial of procedural safeguards in the bond hearings, including the practice of placing the burden of providing eligibility for release on the detained asylum seekers in the bond hearings, the failure to provide transcripts or recordings of the bond hearings, and the failure to provide individualized findings in bond decisions.

The lawsuit was brought in response to the Trump administration’s family separation and detention policies targeting asylum seekers. Plaintiffs are represented by Northwest Immigrant Rights Project (NWIRP) and the American Immigration Council.

“The government continues to subject asylum seekers to weeks or more of unnecessary detention while they pursue their lawful claims. We are pleased that Judge Pechman rejected the government’s attempt to stop the court from considering plaintiffs’ challenges to these unlawful practices,” said Trina Realmuto, directing attorney for the Council.

“The order makes clear that our Plaintiffs have the right to seek this Court’s intervention to enforce their constitutional rights as they seek protection in this country,” said Matt Adams, legal director for NWIRP. “We can now move forward seeking relief from the government’s actions imposing arbitrary and prolonged detention on asylum seekers.”

The order can be found here. Plaintiffs’ motions for class certification and for preliminary injunctive relief with respect to the bond hearings remain pending before the Court.

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For more information, contact:

Maria Frausto at the American Immigration Council, mfrausto@immcouncil.org or 202-507-7526; or Leila Kang at the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, leila@nwirp.org or 206-957-8608.

Media Contact

Wendy Feliz, Communications Director 
wfeliz@immcouncil.org 

Maria Frausto, Senior Communications Manager 
mfrausto@immcouncil.org

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