Detained U.S. Asylum Seekers Must Get Parole Reviews, Judge Says

(Bloomberg) -- A federal judge ordered Immigration and Customs Enforcement to follow its own rules and release asylum seekers on parole if they aren’t a flight risk or a danger to the community.

U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in Washington ordered ICE, a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, to review on a case-by-case basis whether an asylum seeker, who has passed an initial interview to determine whether they have a credible fear of persecution or torture, should be denied parole.

“This opinion does no more than hold the government accountable to its own policy, which recently has been honored more in the breach than the observance,” the judge said in a decision issued Monday.

A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment on the judge’s order.

The lawsuit filed in March by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a group of asylum seekers in U.S. custody predates the Justice Department’s “zero tolerance” policy that all adults crossing the border without visas will be prosecuted.

The resulting separation of children from their families led to chaotic scenes at the Mexican border and prompted several lawsuits. President Donald Trump reversed the policy with an executive order, though the fallout, including the reunification of families, continues to be unclear.

The case is Damus v. Nielsen, 18-cv-00578, U.S. District Court, District of Columbia (Washington).

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