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Federal judge threatens officials with contempt in asylum case

Many immigrants seeking asylum in Kentucky continue to monitor United States immigration policy. Even when there are similarities between cases, it may be difficult to know whether changes will have an adverse effect on their individual situations.   

According to the Washington Post, a federal judge in Washington, D.C., recently threatened to charge the U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security and the Attorney General with contempt of court unless the government returned an asylum seeker and her daughter, deported to El Salvador, to the United States without delay. The mother and daughter allegedly fled El Salvador for fear of gang violence and domestic abuse. Law enforcement had held the two in a family detention center in Dilley, Texas, upon their arrival to the United States. The mother is a plaintiff in an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed on August 7th that challenges a recent Department of Justice policy change restricting asylum on the grounds of threats of domestic abuse or gang violence in the asylum seeker's country of origin.

The hearing was in process, and the federal judge presiding over the case had granted the ACLU's request to delay the plaintiffs' deportations pending a decision on the lawsuit, when the ACLU's lead attorney on the case received an email alerting her that authorities had placed the mother and daughter on a plane back to El Salvador. Upon learning this, the judge ordered a halt to the deportation and the immediate return of the mother and daughter to the United States. The mother and daughter flew promptly back to the U.S. on the same plane in compliance with the court order.

This situation demonstrates the United States' immigration policy in a constant state of flux. Many people seeking asylum are deciding to secure legal representation for themselves and their families.

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