The judge expressed outrage, ordering the plane be turned around, suggesting the government be held in contempt starting with the attorney general, and saying it was "unacceptable" that someone in pursuit of justice who has alleged a credible fear in a US court is spirited away while her attorneys argue for her in court.
"This is pretty outrageous that someone seeking justice in USA court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her?" the Washington Post reports him telling the government attorneys.
Despite Sullivan's "turn the plane around" remark, there is no indication the government tried to deport Carmen and her daughter a minute earlier than they agreed.
If they fail to comply, the judge said, Sessions, Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen and other senior Homeland Security officials would have to convince him not to hold them in contempt of court.
The liberal ACLU, accustomed to representing illegal immigrants and asylum-seekers in court, had struck a deal with the DOJ to halt proceedings against the woman, known only as 'Carmen, ' until midnight Thursday.
Mr Sessions introduced tighter immigration rules in June and victims of domestic abuse and gang violence no longer generally qualify for USA asylum.
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Either way, he said, such a power move would have to wait until after Kavanaugh is confirmed by the Senate. They said, "McMorris Rodgers sounds like she's reinforcing what Nunes is saying".
During a brief recess, she told her colleagues the pair had been taken from a family detention center in Dilley, Texas, and were headed to the airport in San Antonio for an 8:15 a.m. flight.
If the two aren't returned, the judge said in an order, he would require Sessions, the head of Homeland Security, Citizenship and Immigration Services, and the Executive Office for Immigration Review to appear in court to explain why they shouldn't be held in contempt.
The lawsuit, involving a dozen asylum-seekers - Carmen and her daughter, the eight still in custody, and four others who have also already been removed - was filed Tuesday by the ACLU and Center for Gender & Refugee Studies.
Carmen and her daughter were not separated when they crossed the border, but their chances of remaining in the USA were slim after she failed a "credible fear" test created to determine whether her asylum claim could be honored. It argues the administration is wrongly rejecting asylum claims based on domestic abuse and gang violence. Sessions argued that a lack of policing in a given country "cannot establish as asylum claim".
Sessions" unexpected announcement negated a comparatively more vague 2014 Board of Immigration Appeals ruling that married women in developing countries "who are unable to leave their relationship" can be considered a "particular social group' for asylum purposes. In the suit, Grace said her partner of 22 years, and his two gang member sons from another relationship, repeatedly beat and threatened to kill her and her children.