WASHINGTON — The American Civil Liberties Union today filed a nationwide class-action lawsuit challenging the Obama administration’s policy of locking up asylum-seeking mothers and children to intimidate others from coming to the United States.
The case was brought on behalf of mothers and children who have fled extreme violence, death threats, rape, and persecution in Central America and come to the United States for safety. Each has been found by an immigration officer or judge to have a “credible fear” of persecution, meaning there is a “significant possibility” they will be granted asylum.
Yet, instead of releasing these families as they await their asylum hearings, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has typically done, the agency now categorically detains and denies their release on bond or other conditions. The Obama administration adopted this policy — “an aggressive deterrence strategy” — following this summer’s increase in mothers and children coming to the United States.
“Locking up families and depriving them of their liberty in order to scare others from seeking refuge in the U.S. is inhumane and illegal,” said Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project. “The government should not be using these mothers and their children as pawns. They have already been through devastating experiences, and imprisoning them for weeks or months while they await their asylum hearings is unnecessary and traumatizing.”[…]
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