Jeff Sessions Flirting With Idea of Indefinite Detention for Asylum Seekers

Illustration for article titled Jeff Sessions Flirting With Idea of Indefinite Detention for Asylum Seekers
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Jeff Sessions, a racist bloodhound, is considering indefinite detention of people who cross the U.S. border seeking asylum.


Over the past several months, Sessions has instructed judges to deny victims of domestic and gang-violence asylum, and now he is reportedly considering to deny bond hearings to asylum seekers, even if they have passed the credible fear interview. This means that anyone seeking safe haven in the U.S. could be detained indefinitely.

A decision set by a case called Matter of X-K, the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) allows asylum seekers to be released on bond if they pass a “credible fear” interview, in which officials assess whether the asylum seeker is at risk of persecution in their home country. Sessions is reportedly trying to find a way to overturn the BIA’s decision.

Immigration lawyer Ginger Jacobs told San Diego station KPBS that, as a result, asylum cases are becoming harder to win. “We’ve seen him do this now with about a half a dozen cases — he’s starting to pick up speed in going through these cases and referring them to himself so he can basically assert his interpretation of the law,” Jacobs said of Sessions.

Meanwhile, the administration is also trying to undo a 1997 agreement known as the Flores Settlement, which requires ICE to release minors as quickly as possible, and provide them with basic, humane living standards in the meantime. Upending the Flores Settlement means that ICE could detain children and families indefinitely with even less oversight and transparency than it currently has.

Prachi Gupta is a senior reporter at Jezebel.


The Noble Renard

If Sessions actually succeeds in overturning X-K- it’ll be a nightmare for everyone. The whole thing stems from a weird quirk of the law. Asylum-seekers who arrive at a port of entry and ask for asylum are subject to mandatory detention by law, and can be held in ICE detention for the multiple months it takes to decide their asylum case.

However, asylum-seekers who cross the border illegally and are arrested by the Border Patrol are treated, for the purposes of bond, as if they were any other undocumented immigrant arrested for being in the country without authorization. This sets up a weird system where turning yourself in at a port of entry and asking for asylum makes it substantially less likely that you can get out on bond before your asylum hearing.

There’s at least a colorable argument on Sessions’ behalf that this isn’t what Congress intended. But the problem is that the law can also be ready fairly clearly to end up with the current system, because immigration law is absurdly overly complex and sometimes you get weird results out of that. If Sessions does go forward with this plan it’ll be a fucking nightmare, quite frankly. ICE won’t be able to handle the sudden need to mandatorily detain tens of thousands of asylum-seekers. There just isn’t the space to hold that many people right now and ICE would have to start releasing people on parole (so-called “catch and release”) in order not to become quickly overwhelmed. So I’m genuinely curious how much Sessions is talking to ICE about this, because getting rid of bond for asylum-seekers who cross the border illegally is arguably something that even ICE doesn’t want to do.