Aug. 9 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Thursday ordered a plane carrying two undocumented immigrants who had just been deported to El Salvador be turned around because they are witnesses in a lawsuit against the Trump administration.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia ordered the government to temporarily stop future deportations of all witnesses in the American Civil Liberties Union's lawsuit against the federal government for revoking asylum criteria that includes people saying they are in danger of domestic or gang violence in their home country. He also threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt.
"This is pretty outrageous," Sullivan said, according to The Washington Post. "That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?"
A plane carrying the mother-daughter pair landed in El Salvador but they returned to the United States on another flight.
The ACLU said its client, identified only as Carmen, was raped by her husband for two decades and faced death threats from a violent gang.
"Carmen was repeatedly raped, stalked and threatened with death by her abusive husband, even when they were living apart," the ACLU said. "In June 2018, she and her daughter escaped, seeking asylum in the United States. Despite asylum officers finding that their accounts were truthful, they ... ultimately denied them asylum protection because they did not have a 'credible fear of persecution.'"
Carmen is one of several witnesses suing the Trump administration after Sessions announced in June that domestic and gang violence were not credible asylum claims.
"An alien may suffer threats and violence in a foreign country for any number of reasons relating to her social, economic, family or other personal circumstances," Sessions said at the time. "Yet the asylum statute does not provide redress for all misfortune."
The ACLU and the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies filed the lawsuit on Tuesday.