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.
“It’s outrageous,” Judge Sullivan said, according to a transcript of the hearing. “I’m also directing the government to turn that plane around either now or when it lands, turn that plane around and bring those people back to the United States.”
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. They were back in the U.S. on Thursday night.