In a move that his attorney deemed unprecedented, an asylum seeker was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at his very own asylum hearing. After a two-hour-long hearing in San Francisco, the Sudanese national was apprehended by several ICE officials at the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) office.
Immigration advocates say that asylum-office arrests, once an exceedingly rare occurrence, have spiked dramatically. This arrest is just one of several similar cases that have occurred throughout the country.
Making arrests at asylum hearings is just one of many tactics that the Trump administration has used in its attempt to curb immigration. In addition to arresting immigrants at their asylum hearings, ICE officials have ramped up arrests at other sensitive locations, including courthouses. In New York State, for example, courthouse arrests were up 900 percent since 2016.
The man sought asylum in the United States after opposing the government of Sudan. At his asylum hearing, he testified that he feared persecution if he returned to his home country. ICE officials claimed that the man had violated the terms of his temporary visa, apparently staying in the country past the 2014-issued visa’s expiration date. He was detained and now faces deportation.
Because the USCIS has a backlog of nearly 311,000 asylum cases, it can take applicants weeks, months and sometimes years to have their case processed. As a result, their temporary visas can sometimes expire before the date of their court hearing. Once their asylum interview rolls around, the applicant must go to court with an expired visa. With the Trump administration’s crackdown on immigration growing ever more extreme, sudden arrest is a very real possibility that hundreds of thousands of asylum-seekers and their attorneys must handle.