A Bay Area federal judge has given the go-ahead to a nationwide suit by thousands of immigrants who seek asylum in the United States and accuse the government of illegally keeping them in jail for months.
In rejecting the Obama administration’s attempt to dismiss the suit, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of Oakland ruled that federal law requires officials to decide within 10 days whether an undocumented immigrant has a “reasonable fear” of persecution or torture if deported. Immigrants are held without bail while awaiting those decisions.
The law says a decision must be made within 10 days unless “exceptional circumstances” exist. Justice Department lawyers argued that immigration officials have the sole authority to define exceptional circumstances and are not bound by any deadline.