Attorney General William Barr weighed in on an immigration case on Tuesday, issuing a new ruling saying asylum seekers who are able to demonstrate a “credible fear” and progress to the step of obtaining court proceedings to remain in the U.S. are no longer eligible to be released on bond, forcing their detention through an often lengthy process, reports NBC News.
Barr’s ruling, which will go into effect in 90 days, states that a previous 2005 ruling allowing for asylum seekers to be released on bond while their case is being heard by an immigration judge was incorrect. That case determined that asylum seekers are eligible for bond if they are able to exhibit they have credible fear of persecution or danger if they leave the U.S.
“I conclude that such aliens remain ineligible for bond, whether they are arriving at the border or are apprehended in the United States,” Barr wrote.
Barr’s new precedent means that thousands of asylum seekers who once would have been out on bond and living in the U.S. while awaiting a decision on their status will now be kept in detention centers, where the wait times are now climbing from months to a year.
“This ruling gives [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] the legal authority to detain all of these people indefinitely,” said Sarah Pierce, a policy analyst with the Migration Policy Institute, an immigration think tank. “That’s if they have the capacity. So I think the actual effect of this ruling will be severely limited by ICE”s capacity.”
As NBC notes, Barr’s decision “could be problematic for ICE, where space to hold detained immigrants is already extremely limited. Many private prison companies and state and local jails are awarded ICE contracts to hold surplus immigrants.”