The Trump administration has opened the door to a seismic overhaul of immigration and asylum procedure that could lead to the indefinite detention of thousands of asylum seekers who cross the border illegally.
The US attorney general, William Barr, on Tuesday issued guidance overruling a precedent set by George W Bush’s justice department in 2005, which enshrined asylum seekers’ right to bond, irrespective of how they entered the country.
Barr stated in his updated guidance that the 2005 decision was “wrongly decided” and he would move to block immigration judges from offering people who have crossed the border illegally and have established a reasonable claim of torture or persecution the chance of release as their cases are decided in immigration court.
With the immigration court backlog at an all time high – there are close to 900,000 pending cases – asylum seekers are waiting over 1,000 days on average for their cases to be processed, meaning Barr’s decision could lead to the indefinite detention of thousands of people.
Immigration enforcement is…