During today's hearing before U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, word came that the government had put a mother and her daughter who are plaintiffs in this case on a deportation flight to Central America - despite assurances in open court just yesterday that no plaintiff would be deported before midnight tonight.
Justice Department attorney Erez Reuveni said he had not been told the deportation was happening that morning, and could not confirm the whereabouts of Carmen and her daughter.
Homeland Security's "credible fear" policy instructs authorities to deny asylum to immigrants fleeing domestic abuse and gang violence.
The American Civil Liberties Union is disputing the change and filed a lawsuit on behalf of the mother, called Carmen in court papers.
"I'm not happy about this at all", he continued, adding it was "not acceptable".
U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan also blocked the Trump administration from deporting eight other immigrants - now held in detention - who are part of the same lawsuit against the government for allegedly wrongfully rejecting their claims for asylum.
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The government had pledged not to deport anyone in the case before Friday at the earliest, the ACLU said. "We are complying with the court's order, and upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs will not disembark and will be promptly returned to the United States", ICE spokeswoman Justine Whelan said. It challenges a recent tightening on standards for seeking USA asylum, which makes it far more hard for those fleeing domestic or gang violence to win the right to remain in the United States.
Carmen fled El Salvador in June with her daughter, claiming they received violent threats from gang members.
Otherwise, the attorney general argued, protected "social groups" include only people who share a 'common immutable [unalterable] characteristic'.
The Justice Department declined a request for comment, the Post reported.
During the hearing, the judge ordered a temporary stay on deporting the nine women and three children who filed the lawsuit, according to a court filing.
The Trump administration's position is that many asylum-seekers are gaming the system by exaggerating their fear of returning home.
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.