New Bill Proposes Bond Hearings for Asylum Seekers Before Detention

Three lawmakers have reintroduced legislation that would require a bond hearing for all asylum seekers. Senator Cory Booker (D-N.J.), along with US Representatives from Washington Pramila Jayapal and Adam Smith reintroduced the Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act on April 30, according to a statement. The bill would require all detained immigrants to have access to a bond hearing before an immigration judge and would force the government to provide evidence that migrants should be detained if they are a flight risk or are dangerous.

The bill would also require the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to set humane standards for the conditions of detention centers that house asylum seekers, according to the statement. It would also end the use of private prisons and county jails to detain immigrants. The news of the bill comes just a few weeks after Attorney General William Barr said that asylum seekers who have shown a “credible fear” of returning to their country will have to wait in detention centers while their cases are pending and can no longer ask a judge to grant them a bond, the Associated Press previously reported. The recent decision does not affect families who are seeking asylum because they generally cannot be held for more than 20 days; unaccompanied minors are also exempt from the new rule, the AP noted.

In the statement, Booker slammed the Trump administration and stated that the US continues to turn away from asylum seekers who are asking for help. "The Trump administration has adopted the motto of cruelty for cruelty's sake and continues to close America's doors to asylum seekers in their time of need," Booker said. "The fact that Barr wants to strip asylum seekers of their right to due process violates our Constitution and our country's values. Our bill will hold the Department of Homeland Security accountable and ensures vulnerable immigrants are treated with the dignity and respect that should be expected in this country."

Smith called said that US immigration is “broken” and stated that the bill “would put an end to the administration's abuses of the immigration detention system.” “There is absolutely no reason for asylum seeking families to languish in detention facilities while they await the outcome of their cases,” Smith said. “The Dignity for Detained Immigrants Act recognizes the value of immigrants to our community and brings humanity to a failed immigration system."

On Monday, President Donald Trump released a presidential memorandum which proposed new rules for immigrants and would make it more difficult to seek asylum in the US. The proposed rules would deny work permits for asylum seekers who enter the US illegally, require immigrants who seek asylum to pay an application fee, and force government officials to speed up new asylum cases in order to complete them within 180 days.

"This strategic exploitation of our nation's humanitarian programs undermines our nation's security and sovereignty," Trump wrote in the memo. “The purpose of this memorandum is to strengthen asylum procedures to safeguard our system against rampant abuse of our asylum process.”

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in the various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.