A liberal federal court judge appointed by President William J. Clinton blocked President Donald J. Trump’s plan to detain asylum seekers until their immigration court appearances.
“U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman ruled Tuesday that people who are detained after entering the country illegally to seek protection are entitled to bond hearings,” according to Associated Press. “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 U.S.-Mexico border.”
Pechman is the Senior Judge of United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. She made the ruling Tuesday.
Despite the fact that asylum seekers are not U.S. citizens, and the fact that a June sampling of 7,000 asylum seekers showed the 90 percent did not show up for their immigration hearings, Pechman said that the Constitution protects them from what immigration activists call “arbitrary detention.”
Pechman specifically cited the Fifth Amendment and the United States’ history of “a longstanding prohibition against indefinite civil detention with no opportunity to test its necessity.” Under the current policy, the federal government grants bond hearings to asylum seekers, about half of whom are granted bond and asked to return for their immigration hearings months later. The new policy would erase that system, which would likely deter those without legitimate asylum cases to stop coming to America.
Over the past decade, the number of asylum cases on the United States has increased dramatically. In 2009, there were 5,523 “credible” cases of asylum. In 2017, that number was 79,977, and peaked in 2016 at 92,071, suggesting either an expansion in the definition of “credible” asylum cases, or an exploitation of the system.
There are nearly one million immigration cases currently backlogged, and under Pechman’s ruling, all of those people would get to roam free, unvetted inside the United States.
The Department of Justice is expected to appeal the ruling.
Pechman has a history of blocking Trump’s directives. She was one of four federal judges who blocked Trump’s order disallowing transgender people from openly serving in the military. That ruling meant that those seeking sex change surgeries could join the military, keeping in place a bevy of issues for the military, from physical training requirements to taxpayer-funded sex changes and hormone treatments.
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Peter D’Abrosca is a freelance investigative reporter, author, and conservative political commentator.