A federal judge in Washington DC got VERY ANGRY at the government Thursday when he learned that a woman in a case he was hearing had been deported. The judge ordered that the plane carrying the woman and her daughter turn around and fly back to the US. And he threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt if that didn't happen immediately. Oh, he was pissed, all right.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan was hearing an ACLU lawsuit that seeks to reverse Sessions's June decision to deny asylum to migrants who fear domestic violence and gangs. The woman who was supposed to appear before Sullivan yesterday was one of twelve women and children the government has targeted for "expedited" deportation after their initial "credible fear" asylum screenings were rejected under the new rule. Four of the plaintiffs have already been deported, so the ACLU would very much like to stop that shit while they still have clients to challenge the policy's legality.

A Justice Department attorney had promised Sullivan Wednesday that the woman, known as "Carmen" to protect her identity, would definitely not be subject to deportation until 11:59 PM Thursday at the earliest. Instead, without any notice to the court, ICE took Carmen and her daughter from a detention facility in Dilley, Texas, Thursday morning and put them on a chartered plane to El Salvador. Jennifer Chang Newell, the lead ACLU attorney, only learned of the deportation attempt when she received an email about it while she was taking part in the court hearing by phone from her office in California.

ICE hadn't even informed the DOJ attorney, Erez Reuveni, that it had bundled the woman and her daughter onto a plane. After a short recess, Judge Sullivan was informed ICE was was trying to make a plaintiff dissappear, and he immediately granted the ACLU motion to suspend the deportations of Carmen (as well as the other plaintiffs), and angrily told the government to get Carmen and her daughter back to the USA, toot sweet:

"This is pretty outrageous," [Sullivan] said after being told about the removal. "That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?"

"I'm not happy about this at all," the judge continued. "This is not acceptable."

Sullivan told the government to fix this stupidity, and no, that was not a suggestion: "Oh, I want those people brought back forthwith. ... I'm not asking, I'm ordering," Still fuming, he added he was

" ... directing the government to turn that plane around either now or when it lands, turn that plane around and bring those people back to the United States. It's outrageous."

He keeps using that word, and knows exactly what it means. Finally, Sullivan burst into song just like in Cop Rock, with that disco hit, Turn the plane around / got some repercussions. If the plaintiffs weren't returned to his courtroom, he'd demand to know "why people should not be held in contempt of court, and I'm going to start with the attorney general."

If you want, you might even enjoy Rachel Maddow's dramatic interpretation of the court transcript! Homeland Security issued a statement late Thursday confirming the woman and her daughter had been returned to custody in the USA.

The ACLU lawsuit against Sessions and his reversal of established asylum law is a big fucking deal. The ACLU argues Sessions has essentially raised the bar so high for asylum that it will send people back to situations where they'll be killed, and that, as the ACLU's Newell says, is

" ... depriving people of a meaningful opportunity to have their claims heard [...] Congress deliberately made the standard a low one. Congress wouldn't want women and children to be sent back to danger erroneously."

In his decision overturning prior court cases -- a rarely used administrative power the US attorney general has in immigration law and virtually nowhere else -- Sessions insisted that even if countries won't or can't keep their citizens safe from gangs or domestic violence, that's no reason to grant asylum, so it's perfectly cromulent to send them back to likely death. None of our business unless the government is doing the killing and targeting it at particular politically-defined groups, he says.

The New York Times points out that even before Sessions narrowed eligibility for asylum,

the tens of thousands of Central Americans who have sought asylum from gang violence had not had much success in the immigration courts citing fear of gangs. Those who were granted asylum often obtained it on multiple grounds.

Nonetheless, the US has now decided that most asylum seekers are frauds, because tough for you, coming from a shithole country. Maybe you could scrape up half a million dollars to get a visa by buying an apartment in one of Jared's buildings?

If the Sessions Doctrine keeps meeting judges like Emmet Sullivan, we may just return America to something like sanity. Unless of course that asshole Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, at which point everyone reading this article may become subject to deportation.

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[WaPo / MSNBC / CNN / NYT / WaPo]

Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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