Apr 17, 2019

Justice Dept. issues order denying bail to asylum seekers

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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Public transit's death spiral

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Public transit systems across the country are experiencing a painful trifecta: Ridership has collapsed, funding streams are squeezed, and mass transit won't bounce back from the pandemic nearly as fast as other modes of transportation.

Why it matters: Transit agencies could see an annual shortfall of as much as $38 billion due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to TransitCenter. At the same time, they're more important than ever, with more than 36% of essential workers relying on public transportation to get to work.

World coronavirus updates: London mayor says U.K. nowhere near lockdown lifting

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offered hope in the fight against the novel coronavirus, saying she believes New Zealand has "turned a corner" after two weeks of strict lockdown measures. But London Mayor Sadiq Khan has said the U.K. is "nowhere near" lifting restrictions.

The big picture: COVID-19 has killed over 82,000 people and infected 1.4 million others globally as of early Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data. Global recoveries have surpassed 301,000. Spain has reported the most cases outside the U.S. (more than 141,000) and Italy the most deaths (over 17,000). Half the planet's population is on lockdown.

Go deeperArrowUpdated 30 mins ago - Health

Wisconsin may be the start of the 2020 election wars

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Wisconsin voters braving lines in face masks — after a last-minute Supreme Court ruling against extending the absentee deadline — could foreshadow a nationwide legal struggle over how to conduct elections during the coronavirus outbreak, election experts say.

Why it matters: "It's a harbinger of what's to come in the next skirmishes in the voting wars" from now through November, Richard Hasen, a professor and national election law expert at the University of California, Irvine, told Axios.