On Thursday, a federal judge in Washington D.C. reportedly halted a woman’s deportation after finding out that the Trump administration was attempting to deport her and her daughter while the appeal was ongoing. The judge also made clear that he was pissed that he was having to do this in the first place.
According to the Washington Post, a woman referred to in court filings as “Carmen” is a plaintiff in an ACLU lawsuit filed against Attorney General Jeff Sessions for a recent, wantonly cruel, policy change which excludes being domestic and gang violence as a legitimate claim for asylum. The Post reports that the ACLU and the government had agreed to delay Carmen’s removal proceedings until midnight on Thursday. The government apparently didn’t hold up its end of the bargain, much to the chagrin of U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan:
But during a brief recess in the hearing, the ACLU attorneys were informed that Carmen and her daughter had been taken from a family detention center in Dilley, Tex., and may have been headed to the airport in San Antonio for an 8:15 a.m. flight out of the country.
Sullivan ruled in favor of the ACLU’s petition for a stay on the deportation, and according to the Post, ordered the Justice Department to “turn the plane around.” Then, according to ACLU Immigrant Rights’ Project direct Omar Jadwat, Sullivan also threatened to hold Sessions in contempt:
According to the Post, the government’s lawyer, Erez Reuveni, “could not immediately confirm where Carmen and her daughter were or whether they had left the United States.”
“This is pretty outrageous,” Sullivan said. “That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?...This is not acceptable.”
The case highlights the shitty deal that passes for “justice” for migrants undergoing deportation proceedings. Immigration “courts” are under the purview of the Department of Justice, not the judicial branch, and migrants undergoing deportation proceedings aren’t afforded the same rights, like a court-appointed attorney, that they would have in regular U.S. courts. Sessions has unsurprisingly taken advantage of this in his depraved mission to kick as many Latinx people out of the country as possible; in April, the Wall Street Journal reported that he was introducing quotas for immigration judges. (As we reported in June, it looks like his enthusiasm is backfiring.)
Unluckily for the Trump administration, in this case it looks like they forgot they were in the kind of court that uses the Constitution. Common mistake. I have reached out to the Justice Department for comment and will update if I hear back.