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Judge orders two deportees returned

China Daily USA | Updated: 2018-08-10 13:52
Immigration activists hold signs against family separation during a rally to protest against the Trump Administration's immigration policy outside the White House in Washington on
June 30. JOSHUA ROBERTS / REUTERS

Washington, DC - A federal judge on Thursday ordered an immigrant mother and daughter brought back to the United States after learning during a court hearing that the government had put them on a deportation flight to El Salvador.

The two were among 12 plaintiffs in a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenging changes in asylum policies ordered by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Washington DC District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan was hearing a request to stay the plaintiffs' deportations, when the ACLU learned that two of them were already on a flight to Central America, the civil rights group said.

Upon hearing the news, Sullivan ordered their flight returned and suggested that Sessions could be held in contempt of court, according to the ACLU.

An official from the Department of Homeland Security said in an emailed statement that the agency is "complying with the court's order, and upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs did not disembark and are currently en route back to the United States."

During the hearing, the judge ordered a temporary stay on deporting the nine women and three children who filed the lawsuit, according to a court filing.

The lawsuit was filed on Tuesday in the District of Columbia by the ACLU. It challenges a recent tightening on standards for seeking US asylum, which makes it far more difficult for those fleeing domestic or gang violence to win the right to remain in the United States.

Sessions has led efforts by the Trump Administration to crack down on illegal immigration, including the adoption of a zero tolerance policy that briefly included separating immigrant parents from their children while they were in US detention.

Meanwhile the US Army has stopped discharging immigrant recruits who enlisted seeking a path to citizenship - at least temporarily.

A memo shared with The Associated Press spells out orders to high-ranking Army officials to stop processing discharges of men and women who enlisted in the special immigrant program.

"Effective immediately, you will suspend processing of all involuntary separation actions," read the memo signed July 20 by Acting Assistant Secretary of the Army for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Marshall Williams.

The disclosure comes one month after the AP reported that dozens of immigrant enlistees were being discharged or had their contracts cancelled. Some said they were given no reason for their discharge. Others said the Army informed them they'd been labeled as security risks because they have relatives abroad or because the Defense Department had not completed background checks on them.

Reuters - AP

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