The judge, Emmet Sullivan, said it was unacceptable the government had deported the family and threatened to hold the U.S. attorney general, Jeff Sessions, in contempt if the situation was not resolved.
"This is pretty outrageous that someone seeking justice in US court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her", Sullivan said. "That someone seeking justice in United States court is spirited away while her attorneys are arguing for justice for her".
Immigration activists hold signs against family separation during a rally to protest against the Trump Administration's immigration policy outside the White House in Washington, U.S., June 30, 2018.
Carmen fled El Salvador with her daughter in June, according to court records, fearing they would be killed by gang members who had demanded she pay them monthly or suffer consequences. The Justice Department said they would be flown back to Texas and returned to the detention center after landing, the ACLU said.
A Department of Homeland Security official said the agency is "complying with the court's order, and upon arrival in El Salvador, the plaintiffs will not disembark and will be promptly returned to the United States".
DC District Judge Emmet Sullivan then blocked the administration from deporting the two plaintiffs while they are fighting for their right to stay in the United States - reportedly excoriating the administration and threatening to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt. It challenges a recent tightening on standards for seeking USA asylum, which makes it far more hard for those fleeing domestic or gang violence to win the right to remain in the United States.
Homeland Security's "credible fear" policy instructs authorities to deny asylum to immigrants fleeing domestic abuse and gang violence.
The woman, identified only as Carmen, and her daughter had been scheduled to be deported, but the government agreed to postpone their removal until Thursday night so an appeal of the decision could be heard in court, the Washington Post reported. It argues the administration is wrongly rejecting asylum claims based on domestic abuse and gang violence.
Carmen and her daughter were not separated when they crossed the border, but their chances of remaining in the US were slim after she failed a "credible fear" test created to determine whether her asylum claim could be honored. The case is part of an ongoing legal battle over asylum claims.
The ACLU is using Carmen's story and the similar experiences of the other immigrants to challenge Sessions' ruling on asylum.
From there, Sessions has argued, asylum-seekers are typically released into the interior of the country while they await hearings, often years away. Two of the children and their mothers have already been deported.