A U.S. district judge ruled that the United States’ government was not authorized to expel migrant families caught crossing the U.S.-Mexico border under Title 42. The policy, which was issued in March 2020 by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to “limit the spread of the coronavirus,” denies asylum seekers the “opportunity to seek humanitarian benefits” they are entitled to under immigration law, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colombia wrote.
But the public health law that Title 42 was based on does not authorize the expulsions of migrants, Sullivan ruled. His order will apply to families and not to single adult migrants trying to cross the border.
The judge’s ruling comes as the number of border arrests was at a 20-year high in August with more than 195,000 migrants arrested at the U.S.-Mexico border, according to government data. In that same month, the Biden administration “expelled about 19 percent of families apprehended at the border under Title 42,” Reuters reported.
While the Biden administration said that Title 42 is necessary to limit the spread of the coronavirus, human rights groups said the policy is “in violation of longstanding immigration statutes requiring that asylum seekers receive a full and fair proceeding to determine their right to protection in the United States.”
“President Biden should have ended this cruel and lawless policy long ago, and the court was correct to reject it today,” Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, one of the groups challenging the expulsions, said.
President Biden also faced mounting pressure from health experts, immigration advocates, and fellow Democrats to stop applying the Title 42 order, Reuters reported.
The judge’s order will go into effect in 14 days.