The Bogus Reasons ICE Uses to Lock Up Asylum Seekers

On Thursday, May 17, the ACLU will be in federal district court to challenge the Trump’s administration’s arbitrary and illegal incarceration of thousands of asylum seekers who fled persecution, torture, or death in their countries of origin. 

For our plaintiffs, and the class members they represent, the chain of events leading to incarceration was the same: They presented themselves to immigration officers, passed screenings, and were found to have credible asylum claims. Then they were locked up in immigration jails across the country. 

All of them applied for “humanitarian parole,” or release from detention, presenting evidence that they were not flight risks or dangers to the community. And yet, ICE denied every request, often with form letters that provided no indication that their applications and supporting documents were taken seriously.

It’s clear that ICE is violating its own policy directive, which instructs that asylum seekers should be granted release provided they meet certain requirements while they await rulings in their cases. The government, however, maintains that each of our plaintiffs and class members did, in fact, receive an “individualized determination” of whether or not they should be released. To support the claim, the government provided a series of “reasons” of why ICE denied our plaintiffs’ parole requests. This is the first time our plaintiffs have been given even anything close to a real explanation for their detention. And they’re only getting those explanations months after their parole requests were denied, in the form of declarations put together by officials seeking to justify their actions after the fact. But let’s look at some of the government’s so-called “determinations.”

Take Mr. Abelardo Asensio Callol, who came to the U.S. fleeing persecution by the Cuban government. ICE denied his parole request because he allegedly had not shown an “ongoing relationship” with the person he would live with outside of detention while he awaits a decision in his asylum case.

The catch? Mr. Callol’s sponsor was his own mother, a green card holder. If Mr. Callol’s parents can’t vouch for him, who can?

What about H.A.Y.? She came to this country with her husband after they received death threats from an armed wing of a criminal cartel in Mexico. The government’s reason for denying her release is that she is a “recent entrant.” Literally everyone who comes to the U.S. border seeking asylum is, by definition, a “recent entrant.”

And then there’s Mr. Ansly Damus, the lead plaintiff of the lawsuit, who has been locked up for more than a year and a half — and counting. An ethics teacher from Grande-Rivière-du-Nord, Haiti, Mr. Damus criticized a local official for corruption in one of his seminars. Afterwards, an armed gang who supports that official brutally attacked him before setting his motorcycle on fire and threatening to kill him. Mr. Damus fled to the United States, where he presented himself to immigration authorities and applied for asylum. A judge granted him asylum — not once, but twice. He has not committed any crimes and has shown ICE that he had a safe place to live after he was released.

ICE’s reason for denying him parole was that he didn’t have “sufficient ties” to the United States. For one thing, that’s not even true – Mr. Damus showed that he had a friend with lawful status whom he could live with, as well as letters of support from other community members.

Second, every asylum seeker who comes to the border, again, by definition does not have “ties” to this country. And if they’re never released from detention, they will never get the chance to build those “ties.”

The arbitrary imprisonment of people like Mr. Callol, H.A.Y., and Mr. Damus are part of the administration’s larger strategy of deterring immigrants from seeking refuge, even though our laws permit them to.

There can be no other plausible explanation for ICE’s dramatic shift from granting parole in more than 90 percent of cases to denying parole for asylum seekers in nearly every case. This same cruel and abusive deterrence strategy underlies tactics like brutally separating parents from their children and criminally prosecuting individuals who cross the border to seek asylum.

In order to further the Trump’s administration’s anti-immigrant agenda, ICE is holding asylum seekers to criteria that they can never meet. Their justifications for denying parole are painfully transparent, and the court should see through them.

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iCE is a great example of absolute power corrupts.
Case study: why did freedom and democracy fail in America? Lessons from the failures constitutional law.
And if majority of people want peace in the world, why is it that democracies are always at war?

Great Citizens

Wait until Pence and Sessions are given the authority to arrest people who have butt sex. Yes butt sex, aka anal sex, hot pocket, sodomy. Sodomy is what they will call it and the FBI and ICE will get you if that dick comes close to a butt.

Dr. Timothy Leary

Being locked up in America is still better than facing "persecution, torture, or death ". They get three hots and a cot, and if they do get set free in America they can head right to the welfare office and pick up their rent vouchers and food stamps.

Daniela Molina

Idc if you are a Doctor. I am a freaking U.S. citizen, Who I have proven to ICE that I can support them in every way and they wont take advantage of the Government. Even though we sent everything they asked they still denied parole with reasons thay dont even make sense. This is a country made of immigrants, even our current first Lady and her parents are immigrants.
Please get more educated on Immigration before making a stupid comment, without know how a denial like this one affects families.
Thank you!


Daniela Molina should really take her own advice.


We all know that most of these Asylum seekers don't have a valid reason to be qualified to apply for asylum. Their main reason is - "no job in my country". Examples of valid reasons for asylum seekers are: Political (danger in your life due to political reasons), religion, and sexual orientation. If you ask them their reasons for coming to the U.S., most would say that they are here to find a job. I get it, it is tough in their country because of gang problems but their governments must do something about it. When you let the asylum seekers into the U.S., the government would give them a chance to hear their case. However, a lot of them would not show up to court. Imagine the U.S. government is accepting about 5,000 asylum seekers everyday and half of them don't show up to court - at the end, they just stay here in the U.S. without status. Come on people, wake up!!! Every country has their own immigration law. I agree - the government should adjudicate their case at the border so if they don't have a valid reason, send them right back to their country. And for those people who have a legitimate claim of fear - i hope that they get their status here in the U.S. Just for the record, I'm an immigrant myself too but we followed the law.


Get on board whiteman!its legal to persecute the brown humans again. This won’t last long....


This comment shows just how much you don't know about the asylum process. You know enough to think you know it all. It's not true that "most" asylum seekers don't have a valid reason. It's not true that their main reasons for seeking asylum are employment-related. Adjudicating at the border is not possible because of the lengthy process for applying for asylum in the first place. They screen you at the border to see if you have a valid claim or not, but they can't adjudicate it right there and then. Tell me why someone who has a valid claim would chose not to pursue that claim and instead live undocumented in this country? That's not to say it never happens, but what would a reasonable person chose? I think you have some misconceptions about asylum seekers and I would challenge you to learn more.


Appreciate your comment. It is refreshing to read the thoughts of someone who truly gets it. People too often approach this issue emotionally and sound off about it based on those emotions ... nothing wrong with having a big heart, but that doesn't mean those who support law and order do not also. Reality dictates that we cannot take on every soul who shows up at our borders, we do not have the physical or financial means for that ... there has to be limits to slow the flow, not stop it just slow it down so that we don't get to the point where we ARE forced to stop it. As an example, I would like to say to these folks who feel no one should be turned away: imagine you live in a small 2 bedroom, 1 bath home with your spouse and two children and you want to adopt more children; so you adopt one, then another, now you have a total of 4 children sleeping two per room, plus two adults all sharing one bathroom. It is crowded and you've maxed the limits for what your house can hold, but you have big hearts and want to take on two more children. You go back to the agency and tell them you want to adopt two more but they deny you because you have no space for them. Are they heartless, or are they simply looking out for the best interests of those already residing in the already overcrowded house as well as considering the discomfort of the two children who would be placed there? There is always a bigger picture, people need to start looking at it.

We also must have a vetting process, because for every innocent individual who seeks a new and better life here there are two more behind him who are not so innocent, who are fleeing to escape their crimes or who are smuggling drugs, engaging in human trafficking, etc. and they present themselves the same way. It is easy to cry out from the heart and say "let them all in", but open borders is not logical or realistic and would in fact be a dangerous approach.

It's a tough reality that we all have to face, and we'd all be better served if instead of bashing and name calling and fist shaking, all the angry people put their energy into actually suggesting solutions that might improve the process for all involved.


While deeply sympathize with many seekers, but what i notice is only 1 out of 11 million were actually willing to fight,bleed or die for their nation...any reason why that is ?


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