A federal judge threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of court unless he returned a mother and her child, who had been improperly deported, back to the United States.
The mother, identified as “Carmen” in court documents, was in the midst of an appeal over a deportation order for herself and her daughter, along with 10 other plaintiffs who were arguing a new policy implemented by the administration of President Donald Trump was unfair. That policy rescinded asylum protection for individuals entering the U.S. who were trying to flee gang violence or domestic abuse.
Carmen and her daughter alleged they were trying to flee from both. Carmen feared they could be killed by gangs in their home back in El Salvador, and she also explained that her husband was abusive to her in the past.
But before they could make the case for why the new policy was unjust, Carmen and her daughter were forced to board a plane back to El Salvador, deported before their appeal was formally finished.
“This is pretty outrageous,” U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said. “That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?”
Sullivan’s anger seems well-placed, as this would be a clear violation of a person’s right to due process and justice under the law.
“I’m not happy about this at all. This is not acceptable,” Sullivan added.
Because of how egregious the situation was, Sullivan said that if the Department of Homeland Security failed to return Carmen and her daughter back to America — they were already on a flight at the time — he would hold Sessions in contempt of court.
Sessions won’t have to face those consequences, however, since the judge’s demands were followed.
“In compliance with the court’s order, upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs did not disembark and were promptly returned to the United States,” a DHS official said on Thursday.
It’s still outrageous that such an order had to have been made. Sessions and DHS should have known better, and they should have allowed this woman to have her appeal heard in court with her present to defend her case for why she and her daughter should be allowed to stay.
A retired judge who was being interviewed by NBC News understood Sullivan’s frustrations — and even suggested that Sessions deserved to go to jail.
“I’m stunned — absolutely stunned,” retired Judge Paul Schmidt said.
“I think Sessions definitely should be held in contempt, and ultimately he can go to jail, and that’s exactly where he belongs,” he added.
America used to be a nation where the ideals of fairness and justice could be counted upon to be upheld. Under the Trump administration, those ideals have been disregarded, and this instance is just the latest example of that.
It doesn’t seem as if Trump, Sessions, or anyone else in this administration has any empathy, whatsoever, for immigrants seeking a better life. Rather, it seems that their bigotry is a stronger driving force behind how they want to run the country, even if it means the rule of law gets tossed aside in the process.
Banner/thumbnail image credit: Yuri Gripas/Reuters