- The Washington Times - Friday, April 5, 2019

A federal judge ordered the federal government on Friday to either quickly bring asylum seekers to a judge to argue for bail or else release the migrants outright, in a ruling that deals another blow to President Trump’s attempts to crack down on the border crisis.

Judge Marsha J. Pechman, a Clinton appointee to the bench, said Friday the government cannot hold the asylum-seekers in question for longer than seven days without giving them a chance at a bond hearing.

The judge also ordered that the burden of proof will be on Homeland Security to make the case for why the migrants, who entered the country without permission and in most cases will lose their asylum cases, should be detained while awaiting the outcome. She gave the government 30 days to begin complying.

Her ruling could affect thousands of migrants.

“These protections are essential in order to ensure that detention is not used as punishment or a mechanism to block asylum applicants from asserting their rights to seek protection,” said Matt Adams, legal director for the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project.

Judge Pechman, who sits on a federal court in Washington state — part of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit that has irked Mr. Trump — said the government’s own guidelines call for asylum-seekers to have prompt bond hearings.

Her ruling to shift the burden of proof in bond cases to Homeland Security may be even more momentous than her seven-day time period for a hearing.

Even before Friday’s ruling, Mr. Trump had complained about abuse of the asylum system.

“The system is full,” the president said before touring a section of border wall in California. “We can’t take you anymore, whether it’s asylum, whatever.”

Illegal immigrants from Central America have learned to game the system, using “magic words” to clear the initial low bar for the chance to claim asylum.

Only about 20 percent of asylum claims will eventually be granted.

In about half of the cases, people who make an initial “credible fear” claim — a first step toward asylum, and the key to getting past border guards — won’t even bother to file for asylum, instead disappearing into the shadows, authorities say.

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