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‘Turn The Plane Around’: Judge Halts Deportation Of Mother And Daughter, Threatens To Hold Sessions In Contempt

A federal judge on Thursday threatened to hold top Trump administration officials in contempt of court if the government does not bring back a mother and daughter who were put on a plane to El Salvador at the same time that he was hearing arguments in court about why the family should be allowed to stay in the U.S.

U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan said in court that the government must “turn the plane around,” The Washington Post reported.

“This is pretty outrageous,” Sullivan said after learning about the removal, according to The Post. “That someone seeking justice in U.S. court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?”

The judge continued that he was “not happy about this at all,” and that the situation was “not acceptable.”

The judge ordered the government to immediately return Carmen and her daughter to the U.S. If the government does not fully comply with the order, the judge said he would order officials to appear in court to explain why they should not be held in contempt. Along with Sessions and Nielsen, he singled out U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Lee Francis Cissna and Executive Office of Immigration Review Director James McHenry.

Under the court order issued on Thursday, eight asylum-seekers, including the mother and daughter, will be allowed to remain in the U.S. while Sullivan considers the case. The deported mother and daughter were en route back to the U.S. later Thursday, according to the report.

An administration official told The Post that the flight left El Salvador for Houston at about 3:00 p.m. The plane was set to arrive back in Houston at about 5:30 p.m., and then the mother and daughter would be driven back to Dilley, Texas, the facility where they were being held. The official said the mother and daughter never got off the plane in El Salvador.

It was a dramatic illustration of the Trump administration’s zeal for deportations running up against an increasing number of court challenges against its immigration policies.

But Attorney General Jeff Sessions, along with Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and other officials, could face consequences for the government’s handling of the case if the judge believes they did not fully comply with his orders.

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