Judge threatens Sessions with contempt, blocks asylum-seekers’ deportation mid-flight

A federal judge on Thursday stopped the deportations of an asylum-seeking woman and her young daughter who were already aboard a plane to El Salvador, criticizing the Trump administration for trying to remove them while they were challenging their cases in court.

In Washington, U.S. District Judge Emmet G. Sullivan, who was appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1994, threatened to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt of court if U.S. officials didn’t immediately return the pair to the U.S.

An official at the Department of Homeland Security said the agency was complying with the judge’s order. “Upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs didn’t disembark and are currently en route back to the United States,” the official said.

The back-and-forth was the latest wrinkle in the administration’s immigration crackdown, coming as part of a lawsuit taking aim at a policy that says victims of domestic violence in their home countries don’t automatically qualify for asylum in the U.S. The woman, known as Carmen in the lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union, was among several immigrants challenging the policy.

An expanded version of this report appears on WSJ.com.

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