The American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, Human Rights First, and Covington & Burling LLP filed a federal lawsuit today challenging the Trump administration’s arbitrary detention of asylum seekers fleeing persecution, torture, or death in their countries of origin. All the plaintiffs have passed credible fear screenings — meaning a U.S. asylum officer has determined their fear of persecution is credible, and that they have a significant possibility of receiving full asylum. Government policy stipulates that asylum seekers be granted humanitarian parole as they await their immigration proceedings, provided they meet a series of stringent requirements. Instead, the Trump administration is categorically jailing them indefinitely, in violation of the Constitution, U.S. immigration laws, and the Department of Homeland Security’s own written policy.

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) applauds Senator Mazie Hirono and her co-sponsors, including Senators Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris of California, for reintroducing the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act. This important bill would ensure access to government appointed counsel for unaccompanied children in immigration court proceedings.

In a long awaited opinion, the Supreme Court in Jennings v. Rodriguez disappointingly reversed an appellate court decision holding that U.S. immigration statutes do not authorize immigrants to be held indefinitely and affording those individuals bond hearings after six months to evaluate if detention remains justified.

In response, Center for Gender and Refugee Studies Director Professor Karen Musalo stated: “We are disappointed that the Court failed to recognize the statutory rights of immigrants in detention, including the many thousands of asylum seekers fleeing persecution and torture. However, with the constitutional issues left open, we remain hopeful that the lower courts will vindicate the liberty and due process rights of immigrants.”