Batavia detention center for asylum-seekers ordered to reform

Nov 20, 2017

A federal judge has ruled that the Buffalo Federal Detention Facility in Batavia must reform how it decides parole for asylum.

Civil liberties lawyers had sued on behalf of more than 30 immigrants who were held in the facility. They say they were wrongly denied parole while their asylum applications were pending. As one Batavia official told a detainee, asylum-seekers had a “one in a million” chance of getting parole after Trump became president, according to the New York Civil Liberties Union.

U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Wolford ruled on Friday that the detention center must redo parole applications for asylum-seekers who have been denied and must push through applications for others. She ruled the facility must provide an asylum-seeker with information on the requirements and an individualized explanation for why an application has been denied.

NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn called Wolford's ruling a "strong rebuke to the Trump administration's campaign against immigrants."

"People who came to the U.S. border seeking only refuge will no longer suffer indefinite confinement in New York's largest immigration detention facility,” said Dunn. “Asylum-seekers deserve, and will now get, the chance to be with loved ones while awaiting their asylum hearings.”

"I fled persecution in Somalia and came to America because people all around the world think of this country as a beacon of hope,” said petitioner Hanad Abdi. “But during the 10 months I was imprisoned at Batavia, not knowing why I was jailed or how I could get out, I felt hopeless. Because of the judge's decision, others will not have to suffer like I did."

U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officials did not immediately comment on the ruling.