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Judge orders return of deported Salvadoran mother and daughter

Judge's decision to halt deportation offers ray of hope for Central Americans fleeing domestic violence or gangs.
10 Ago 2018 – 10:55 AM EDT
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They were being deported, but a judge sent a Salvadoran mother and her daughter back to the United States.

A federal judge expressed his anger Thursday when he learned that the Trump administration was in the process of deporting a Salvadoran mother and her daughter who's case he was hearing. They were already on the plane and he ordered they be sent them back immediately to the United States.

"Someone in the government made the decision to deport those plaintiffs and I'm not happy about that," Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia said at a hearing. A day earlier the judge had ordered the temporary suspension of deportations of families - including the Salvadoran mother and her daughter - covered by a lawsuit against the Justice Department over the asylum eligibility of victims of domestic violence and gangs.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions imposed new limitations on asylum requests in June for people fleeing domestic violence and gangs, the main threats cited by that thousands of Central Americans who flee each year. The decision sparked strong criticism among judges and immigration lawyers.

Sullivan said that the expulsion of the mother and child prior to the hearing in the case was "unacceptable" and ordered the "expedited return" of the mother and daughter.

The judge's order was issued when they were somewhere in the air between Texas and El Salvador. They landed and then took another flight back to the United States.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which is leading the lawsuit, said the judge went as far as warning the government that he would take measures against the attorney general if the Salvadorans were not returned. "These families and children continue to arrive in the United States because they have no other alternative," said Gabriela Meléndez, an ACLU spokeswoman, in an interview with Univision.