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Court Blocks White House 'No-Release' Detention Policy

A sign in Spanish and English above the entrance to a secured entrance area at the Karnes County Residential Center in Karnes City, Texas.

A federal judge has ruled to temporarily block an Obama administration order to detain mothers and children seeking asylum in the U.S., what is known as the "no-release" policy.

The Wall Street Journal says: "The lawsuit challenged the new practice by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), a unit of the Department of Homeland Security, of detaining women and children who had shown a credible fear of persecution."

NPR's John Burnett reports that the government claims the mothers and children are national security risks and that their detention deters other potential immigrants.

The American Civil Liberties Union had challenged the policy, saying it was aimed at discouraging others from seeking asylum.

"What it means is that the government can no longer lock them up simply to send a deterrent message to others," Judy Rabinovitz, deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, tells NPR. "The policy that the government had engaged in constitutes, really, an egregious misuse of its detention authority."

According to the WSJ: "All told, 66,000 such family units crossed into the U.S., mainly through Texas, in the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30. About as many unaccompanied minors also flocked to the U.S. during that period, usually turning themselves into border patrol agents."

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