AILA Public Statements, Press Releases

AILA: AG Aims to Detain Asylum Seekers, Intruding Further on Immigration Court Independence

4/17/19 AILA Doc. No. 19041734. Admissions & Border, Asylum, Detention & Bond, Removal & Relief
George Tzamaras
Belle Woods

WASHINGTON, DC - On April 16, 2019, Attorney General William Barr issued a decision in Matter of M-S- in which he determined that asylum seekers who establish a credible fear of persecution and will be placed in removal proceedings are not eligible for an individualized determination of their custody status before the immigration court.

AILA Treasurer Jeremy McKinney stated, "With this decision, the Attorney General is unilaterally depriving asylum seekers of their right to a bond hearing in front of an immigration judge despite the fact they have passed a credible fear interview administered by a USCIS asylum officer. By overturning Matter of X-K, which provided for an independent review of the government's justification to detain someone, the Attorney General is sweeping aside 14 years of standing Board of Immigration Appeals precedent that the courts and DHS have long implemented. This is a devastating blow to those seeking protection from persecution at the U.S. border, since far more will be held in detention. This decision further expands mandatory and prolonged detention of people who are neither dangerous nor flight risks, practices which are constitutionally suspect and a waste of taxpayer money. This administration is using detention as a sword against both due process and the humanitarian principles our nation was founded upon."

AILA Executive Director Benjamin Johnson added, "While Matter of M-S- will not take effect for 90 days, the impact of Attorney General Barr's decision, along with the other decisions issued by his immediate predecessors on asylum and the nation's immigration courts, cannot be overstated. With full control over the immigration court system, the Attorney General is not only rewriting asylum and detention law but also stripping judges of the most basic operational authorities and judicial independence. Asylum seekers arriving at the southern border can be processed in an orderly way while also being provided with thorough and fair review of their asylum cases. To accomplish that, the immigration courts must be allowed to operate as courts, not puppets of the Attorney General. Without delay Congress should create an Article One immigration court system, separate from the Department of Justice to counteract the political machinations of the administration."