Judge orders government to turn around deportation plane

DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan

DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan

Immigration officials have returned a mother and daughter to the United States after they were deported, which had angered a federal judge who was hearing their lawsuit.

"This is pretty outrageous", U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said after being told about the removal.

The judge ordered the government to immediately return Carmen and her daughter to the U.S. If the government does not fully comply with the order, the judge said he would order officials to appear in court to explain why they should not be held in contempt.

DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan then blocked the administration from deporting the two plaintiffs while they are fighting for their right to stay in the United States - reportedly excoriating the administration and threatening to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt.

The woman, "Carmen", is being represented by the American Civil Liberties Union in a court case challenging the Trump administration's decision to bar domestic and gang violence victims from seeking asylum in the U.S.

In June, Sessions reversed a long-standing policy that considered asylum cases on the basis of gang and domestic violence, and now allows fast-track rejections and deportations if those are the only factors involved.

The plaintiffs on the plane are identified in the lawsuit as Carmen and her minor daughter, although Carmen is a pseudonym, the network reported.

Activists rally against the Trump administration's immigration policies outside the New York City offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in July.

In court on Thursday, Sullivan also temporarily blocked the U.S. from deporting plaintiffs in the lawsuit, most of whom are women fleeing sexual abuse and gang violence.

The Department of Justice is not commenting on the case nor the judges' threat to hold the attorney general in contempt. Carmen and her daughter will go back to an ICE facility in Dilly, Texas.

But at the border, the government determined after interviewing her that she did not meet the "credible fear" threshold required to pursue an asylum claim in the USA, and an immigration judge upheld that decision.

The lawsuit, involving a dozen asylum-seekers - Carmen and her daughter, the eight still in custody, and four others who have also already been removed - was filed Tuesday by the ACLU and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies. The suit said the mother suffered "two decades of horrific sexual abuse by her husband", who raped and threatened her after she moved away. Sessions argued that a lack of policing in a given country "cannot establish as asylum claim".

The ACLU lawsuit was filed on behalf of 12 migrants from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala - three of them children - all of whom failed their initial "credible fear" interviews.

None of the adults had been separated from their children as part of President Donald Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy.

From there, Sessions has argued, asylum-seekers are typically released into the interior of the country while they await hearings, often years away.

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