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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Perhaps it's because "their nation" stands for atrocious violence and mass-murder. Why would anyone want to give their life to a government that does, oh, for example, the things mentioned in this article.

Ken Forester

What the hell happened to the law about asking for asylum at the border of Mexico first or where ever the hell they came from. Also why aren't these so called immigration lawyers not going to jail for couching these piss ants on how to deceive the border patrol. People it's commin down to us or them. Right now their winning, pack your shit their moving us out with the help of our own goddamn government. Are we gonna sit back and let this shit happen. I reckon so. Good bye America.

Bill Murphy

Don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out.


so we should just let the whole world in? How many are your lawyers letting live with them?


Our country just simply cannot let everyone in the world here. We have families too and we send money and help to most countries. These people need help but in their own country-not ours. I want to leave this earth knowing that my children and grandchildren will have a good life-one that we have worked for. Next step in immigration is to pass a law that just because an illegal has a baby here-that baby is not an automatic citizen of the US. We are the only country that allows it.

Tom Smith

I am an ACLU member been one for over 25 years and the rife fraudulent asylum claims we see plugging up our courts and scamming our citizen tax payers has got to stop. This is one area I totally disagree with my beloved ACLU. Please go back to the basics and stop supporting all these fraudulent asylum seekers who disappear into the shadows when released and are scamming our nations immigration system.


Thank you for being a voice of reason.


Illegal is the key word and its reason enough , time the left learns it caint ignore the ppl of the usa .


--- The ACLU should be classified as a Terrorist Organization and every person associated with the ACLU -- starting with the Lawyers should be rounded up and charged with Sedition!
--- The fact is that the ACLU was founded by Seditious Communists and the goal was to cause dissension among citizens by putting one group of people against another group -- a typical Marxist strategy! But instead of focusing on workers as Marx did, the ACLU went after the Races, the Black Minority being held down by White Oppressors!
--- So you're lucky that Pres Trump and AG Sessions isn't as evil as you seditious b-st-rds say they are. If I had my way you'd all be in GITMO and Waterboarded daily -- just for the fun of it!

Bill Murphy

Trolls like yourself should be rounded up and deported to as far away as possible. You have no business living in the home of the free. We all know the oligarchs pay pond scum like yourselves to lie. You are nothing but lowlife bottom feeders. Totally worthless in a progressive society. Perhaps the Koch brothers will buy you a one-way plane ticket to hell.


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