A group of migrants seeking asylum in the United States filed a class-action lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security last Thursday. According to the suit, the Trump Administration has violated U.S. law by unfairly detaining immigrants fleeing persecution and seeking asylum, and refusing to grant them parole from prison and detention centers.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of 9 plaintiffs by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other immigrant rights groups, estimates that over 1,000 asylum seekers are currently facing indefinite detention, despite having passed initial screenings to verify their stories and posing zero threats to national security.
Abelardo Asensio Callon, one of the plaintiffs suing the administration and a current client of The Law Office of Rosina C. Stambaugh, is being held at York County, Pa., Prison. Abelardo refused to join the Communist party or rally for the now-deceased Cuban leader Fidel Castro. While he was initially deemed to have a credible story and entitled to a hearing before an administrative judge, he has been jailed for several months while awaiting those hearings. “We came to the U.S. seeking freedom, and what we got was a prison," said the 30-year old software engineer.
Refugee status, or asylum, may be granted to foreign individuals who have been persecuted or fear they will be persecuted on account of race, religion, or political opinion. Regardless of your country of origin or current immigrations status, one can apply for asylum in the United States as long as they meet the definition of refugee, are already in the United States and seek admission at a port of entry.
Unfortunately, asylum seekers now face more obstacles thanks to the Trump administration’s wide-ranging review of the country’s immigration policies and asylum fraud, which the government blames for a backlog in the immigration courts of more than 600,000 cases. According to General Jeff Sessions, he believes that the asylum system is being gamed by “foreigners and dirty immigration lawyers.” The Justice Department seeks to cut the number of cases in half by 2020.
The ACLU lawsuit is filed against Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which detains immigrants, and the Justice Department, which runs the courts where immigrants can seek bond hearings. A recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court found that asylum seekers who crossed the border illegally no longer have the right to a bond hearing in immigration court, making parole all the more urgent.
"The Trump administration wants to make life so miserable for asylum seekers that they give up and return to their home countries, even at the risk of torture or death," American Civil Liberties Union Immigrants’ Rights Project lawyer Michael Tan said in a press release. "The administration is wielding indefinite detention as a weapon to deter future asylum seekers, which is both cruel and unconstitutional."
If you are currently seeking asylum in the U.S. or have a loved one who currently fears for their safety, please contact our York immigration lawyer at The Law Office of Rosina C. StambaughCall (717) 921-4042 or contact us online to schedule your initial consultation.