Federal judge threatens to hold Sessions in contempt of court
Federal judge threatens to hold Sessions in contempt over deportation
A federal judge threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt. Associated Press/Alex Brandon
- A federal judge on Thursday grew outraged over the government's attempt to deport a mother and her child while her lawyers were defending her in court.
- The judge threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt, and ordered the government to "turn the plane around."
- The American Civil Liberties Union is suing the Trump administration over new rules blocking immigrants from receiving asylum if their claims are based on domestic or gang violence.
A federal judge on Thursday threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt after learning that the government was deporting a mother and child at the very moment her lawyers were defending her in court, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
US District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the government to "turn the plane around," adding that if it wasn't done, he would hold the government in contempt — starting with Sessions.
"This is pretty outrageous," Sullivan said, according to The Washington Post. "That someone seeking justice in US court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?"
The mother, who has been identified only as "Carmen," is one of a handful of asylum-seekers listed as a plaintiff in the ACLU's lawsuit against the Trump administration's new asylum rules.
A child from Honduras is brought to the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement office in Grand Rapids, Mich., Tuesday, July 10, 2019. Associated Press/Paul Sancya Sessions announced last month that immigrants will no longer qualify for asylum if their claims were based on domestic or gang violence.
The move immediately excluded a major chunk of asylum-seekers, including Carmen, and provoked outrage from immigration advocates.
The ACLU argued in its complaint that Sessions' new rules violate US law and will result in thousands of immigrants being "unlawfully deported to places where they fear they will be raped, kidnapped, beaten, and killed."
But even though the litigation is only just beginning, the ACLU learned in the middle of Thursday's hearing that the government had already put Carmen and her child on a deportation flight, the ACLU's Immigrant Rights Project director Omar Jadwat tweeted.
"[The] government told us and court that they wouldn't deport clients until Friday at earliest," he wrote. "During the hearing, though, we learned the government had put a mom and child on a deportation flight about an hour beforehand. We told the judge, who was rightly outraged."
Sullivan quickly issued a ruling to temporarily bar the government from deporting Carmen and the other plaintiffs, telling the government attorneys in court, "This is not acceptable."
The government has 24 hours to formally reply to Sullivan's ruling.
The ACLU praised Sullivan's ruling in a statement, and accused the Trump administration of putting "women and children in grave danger" in its rush to deport immigrants as quickly as possible.
"We are thrilled the stay of removal was issued but sickened that the government deported two of our clients — a mom and her little girl — in the early morning hours. We will not rest until our clients are returned to safety," ACLU managing attorney Jennifer Chang Newell said.
Video: Judge threatens to hold Jeff Sessions in contempt over deportation during asylum hearing
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