A federal judge has ruled that the Trump administration may not arbitrarily detain immigrants seeking asylum in the United States. The decision, which was handed down on July 2, could impact immigrants living in Florida.
The case before the district court involved a Haitian teacher who has been held in an Ohio detention facility for over 18 months after requesting asylum due to violence and political persecution in his home country. He has remained in custody even though an immigration judge twice granted him asylum.
In his opinion, the U.S. district judge said that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement breached its own rules when it chose to keep the teacher in custody even after a judge ruled in his favor. ICE procedures dictate that asylum seekers be granted humanitarian parole while they await an asylum hearing if they pass a credible fear interview and are not considered a flight risk. During a credible fear interview, immigrants are given the opportunity to convince U.S. authorities that they are truly in need of protection. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, ICE is currently detaining asylum seekers in Detroit, El Paso, Los Angeles, Newark and Philadelphia. The judge ordered ICE to review the cases of more than 1,000 asylum seekers being detained in those cities, saying that it was "no great judicial leap" to make the agency follow its own baseline procedures on the matter.
Asylum seekers facing detention or deportation may find relief by contacting an attorney familiar with immigration law. Legal counsel could evaluate an immigrant's case and represent their interests throughout all legal proceedings. If immigrants are being detained, an attorney could work to gain their release and help them apply for asylum.