A federal judge ordered the government to return an asylum-seeking mother and her daughter to the USA after the Trump administration revealed in a Thursday court hearing that they had sent the migrants to Central America while the court was still considering their case.
Washington, DC, Judge Emmet Sullivan was hearing a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union and Center for Gender and Refugee Studies when he learned of the deportations - which came after he was assured by administration lawyers that none of the plaintiffs would be kicked out, NBC News reported.
Immigration activists hold signs against family separation during a rally to protest against the Trump Administration's immigration policy outside the White House in Washington, U.S., June 30, 2018.
Carmen is a pseudonym for the woman who, along with her daughter, was seeking asylum because of domestic abuse in El Salvador.
"Carmen was repeatedly raped, stalked and threatened with death by her abusive husband, even when they were living apart", the ACLU said.
A DHS official told NPR on Friday, "In compliance with the court's order, upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs did not disembark and were promptly returned to the United States".
"The whole point of this was to get a ruling from the court before they could be placed in danger", ACLU attorney Jennifer Chang Newell said.
In changing the standards for seeking asylum, Sessions said in June that 'the mere fact that a country may have problems effectively policing certain crimes, such as domestic violence or gang violence, or that certain populations are more likely to be victims of crime, can not itself establish an asylum claim'.
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.
The Justice Department and attorneys agreed to delay the court proceedings for the mother-daughter pair until later that night, but despite the decision, an attorney on the case received word that Carmen and her daughter were already at an airport ready to be deported.
In June, the Trump administration determined that fleeing domestic violence and gang violence would no longer be accepted as a means for refuge in the United States.
A "credible fear" interview is a threshold screening that determines whether there is a "significant possibility" that an immigrant could show they are eligible for asylum in a full hearing with evidence, witnesses, and appeals. Sessions argued that a lack of policing in a given country "cannot establish as asylum claim".
'It's clear the administration's goal is to deny and deport as many people as possible, as quickly as possible, ' she said.
None of the adults had been separated from their children as part of President Donald Trump's "zero-tolerance" policy.