Attorney General William Barr issued a ruling last night declaring that asylum seekers who cross the border illegally cannot ask immigration judges to be released on bond during their initial hearings.
In other words, Barr has opened the door to indefinitely detaining a significant number of immigrants who would have previously been released while they wait for their scheduled appearances in court.
Barr said such people can be held in immigration detention until their cases conclude, or if the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decides to release them by granting them “parole.” DHS has the discretion to parole people who are not eligible for bond and frequently does so due to insufficient detention space or other humanitarian reasons.
Barr said he was delaying the effective date by 90 days “so that DHS may conduct the necessary operational planning for additional detention and parole decisions.”
Now, this may lead to more family separation because indefinitely detaining immigrants means separating families into different facilities.
Immigrant families are typically paroled together, but that's another matter that's left up to executive discretion and we know Trump has been asking his cabinet to resume family separations. A number of officials including former secretary Kirstjen Nielsen have left the Department of Homeland Security in recent weeks because they have not been sufficiently cruel (or carried out illegal acts) for Trump.
The ACLU stated their intention to challenge Barr's ruling in court as soon as the news broke last night.
BREAKING: Attorney General William Barr tonight directed immigration judges to deny bond hearings to asylum seekers.
Our Constitution does not allow the government to lock up asylum seekers without basic due process.
We'll see the administration in court. Again.
— ACLU (@ACLU) April 17, 2019