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ACLU succeeds in temporarily halting detention of asylum seekers

A federal court ruling may have offered some relief to the immigrant community in California. The practice of detaining asylum seekers, including mothers and children, has been temporarily stopped by a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.

The court ruling on the ACLU lawsuit stated that the persecution fears of the detained mothers were credible and they would likely qualify for asylum. The lawsuit arose after the Department of Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency began detaining mothers and children who entered the United States claiming that they were escaping violent persecution in Central America. Before ICE began detentions, immigrants were not generally locked up while their asylum cases were processed.

The ACLU accused the federal government of trying to deter other people from seeking asylum by holding mothers and children from Central America. The organization's director of its Immigrants' Rights Project said the court ruling established that the government cannot hold people against their will because it wants to intimidate other people who might seek asylum. The director added that asylum seekers could only be legally detained on an individual basis if the government could show that a person is dangerous or a flight risk.

A person may be able to legally enter the United States if he or she faces a threat of violence at home because of religion, politics, race and other forms of social identity. Asylum may be granted if the person can prove a credible fear of harm in the home country. Someone in this situation might choose to work with an attorney. An immigration attorney might be able to help the asylum seeker fill out applications correctly and avoid missing documentation crucial to gaining an approved entry.

Source: Reuters, "Court temporarily halts U.S. policy of detaining asylum-seeking mothers, children," Feb. 20, 2015

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  • American Immigration Lawyers Association
  • State Bar of California | California Board of Legal Specialization
  • Avvo
  • Orange County Bar Association
  • Irvine Chamber