Attorney General William Barr on Tuesday reversed a ruling that allowed migrants to be released on bond who had crossed the southern border illegally and then established they had “credible fear” of returning to their home countries.
“I conclude that such aliens remain ineligible for bond, whether they are arriving at the border or are apprehended in the United States,” Barr wrote in his opinion.
Barr’s move leaves the decision up to the Department of Homeland Security of whether individual immigrants who crossed the border illegally and later claimed asylum should be temporarily released. The change scraps a 2005 immigration court ruling allowing bond hearings for such migrants.
Immigration lawyers and immigrant rights advocates had pushed for the release on bond of immigrants who demonstrated credible fear, arguing that it is not in the interest of the U.S. to detain migrants who have shown they have a legitimate case for asylum.
The new policy does not apply to migrant children, either alone or with their families, or those applying to enter the country at a port of entry, and will take effect in 90 days.
“This is the Trump administration’s latest assault on people fleeing persecution and seeking refuge in the United States,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project in a statement. “Our Constitution does not allow the government to lock up asylum seekers without basic due process. We’ll see the administration in court.”
The ACLU said they plan to challenge the decision.
Apprehensions at the southern border spiked in March as a record number of families were intercepted crossing into the country. The number of individuals apprehended who crossed the border between ports of entry was 92,607 last month compared to 66,884 in February. March’s numbers include 8,975 unaccompanied children and a record 53,077 family units, as well as 30,555 single adults.