Apr 16, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Justice Dept. issues order denying bail to asylum seekers

Attorney General William Barr.

Attorney General William Barr. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The Justice Department issued an order on Tuesday that would prevent immigration judges from granting bail to thousands of migrants seeking asylum, making them wait in jail until their cases are resolved.

Why it matters: The order, issued by Attorney General William Barr, comes as detention centers are overcrowded, and aligns with President Trump's vow to end "catch and release" at the southern border. This policy is almost certain to be challenged in court. An immigration lawyer told Axios it represents an effort by the administration to get the Supreme Court to establish what rights migrants who cross the border actually have.

"This is the Trump administration’s latest assault on people fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in the United States. Our Constitution does not allow the government to lock up asylum seekers without basic due process. We'll see the administration in court."
— Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project

Details: The order will go into effect in 90 days, so the Department of Homeland Security "may conduct the necessary operational planning," Barr wrote.

  • The ruling does not apply to migrants seeking asylum at ports of entry along the border who must be granted “parole” in the U.S. and are not eligible for bond hearings. It only affects those who have been apprehended after crossing into the country illegally.

Per the New York Times, it will not apply to unaccompanied children or families that illegally crossed the border.

  • "A longstanding settlement in a previous court case says that the government cannot detain children or families for longer than 20 days. But immigrant rights lawyers said that Mr. Barr’s order — if it goes into effect — could set a precedent that the government could use to deny bond hearings, and bail, for an even broader number of immigrants," the Times notes.

Go deeper: How the U.S. asylum process works

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