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Court order halts detention policy for asylum seekers

Pennsylvania residents may be interested to know about the latest development regarding immigration policy. On Feb. 20, a judge put a halt to a government policy that detained mothers and children who sought asylum in the United States. Past policy was to allow those who met the standard of credible fear to remain free while their cases were being heard unless they posed a specific threat to others.

The policy of detaining mothers and children during asylum cases was started in the summer of 2014. It was implemented to slow a spike in illegal immigration from Central American countries. However, the ACLU took action on behalf of those detained in December 2014, which lead to the recent court ruling. A representative of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project said that the ruling sent a clear message that no one can be deprived of their liberty just to send a message to others.

The statement references a belief that the policy was created with the goal of deterring others from attempting to illegally cross the border. Although it is valid for an individual to claim asylum, that person may still be entering the country illegally. In making its ruling, the court acknowledged that the mothers who had met the credible fear threshold were most likely to have their request for asylum granted.

Those who are seeking asylum in the United States may wish to speak with an immigration attorney. An attorney may be able to help an individual win the right to stay in the country either. Immigrants who come to the United States due to a credible fear of violence back home may be allowed to stay and remain out of federal custody even if they came to the country illegally.

Source: Reuters, "Court temporarily halts U.S. policy of detaining asylum-seeking mothers, children," Feb. 20, 2015

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