Judge blocks US from deporting migrants under Title 42 policy

Washington – A federal judge on Tuesday barred federal immigration authorities from using a public health authority known as the Title 42 quickly expel migrants, blocking the main tool used by the Biden administration to manage an unprecedented wave of migration along the US-Mexico border.

Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia overturned an order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that allowed U.S. border officials to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants on health grounds public, claiming that the edict was not properly enacted.

First issued in 2020 by the Trump administration at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Title 42 policy builds on a late 19th-century law designed to stop the “introduction” of contagious diseases into states. -United. Migrants processed under Title 42 are not allowed to seek U.S. asylum and are instead summarily removed from the country.

Tuesday The ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which argued that Title 42 puts migrants at risk and violates US asylum law. Migrants on US soil, including those crossing the border illegally, are allowed to seek humanitarian protection.

“This ruling is of enormous significance to asylum seekers and will hopefully end the misuse of public health laws to prevent desperate people from seeking protection,” CBS News told CBS News. Lee Gelernt, the ACLU attorney who filed the complaint.

Later Tuesday, lawyers for the Biden administration asked Sullivan to suspend his decision for 5 weeks until December 21, citing operational concerns about the abrupt end of Title 42 and the need for an “orderly transition” to regular immigration processing.

“This transition period is essential to ensure that DHS can continue to carry out its mission of securing the Nation’s borders and conduct its border operations in an orderly manner,” Justice Department attorneys wrote.

In a statement, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees border enforcement in the United States, said a stay of Tuesday’s decision would allow authorities to implement “new policies” to deal with migrants. , without giving further details. “We know smugglers will lie to try to take advantage of vulnerable migrants, putting lives at risk,” the department said.

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Border Patrol agents talk with a group of migrants taken from Tijuana, in the state of Baja California, Mexico, November 11, 2022.

GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images


In a 49 page review, Sullivan said he determined the Title 42 policy was “arbitrary and capricious,” in violation of federal administrative law that governs regulations. He said the CDC failed to properly explain the rationale for allowing an unprecedented deportation authority, as opposed to implementing less drastic measures to mitigate COVID issues, such as vaccinations. and monoclonal antibodies.

Sullivan also said the CDC “failed to consider the harm done to migrants subject to deportation,” citing reports warning that migrants could be persecuted or otherwise victimized in Mexico and elsewhere after being deported from states. -United.

“It is unreasonable for the CDC to assume that it can ignore the consequences of any action it chooses to take in pursuit of its goals, particularly when those actions included the extraordinary decision to suspend the codified procedural and substantive rights of non-citizens seeking refuge,” Sullivan wrote.

After continuing deportations for more than a year, the Biden administration announced the termination of Title 42 in April, citing improved pandemic conditions. But through a separate lawsuit, a coalition of Republican-led states convinced a federal judge in Louisiana to stop the dismissal.

Despite appealing the decision, the Biden administration continued to rely heavily on Title 42 as border management policy amid record numbers of migrant arrests along the southern border. He also recently expanded border deportations to deter Venezuelan migrants from entering the United States illegally.

In fiscal year 2022, which ended Sept. 30, U.S. authorities along the southern border arrested migrants nearly 2.4 million times, the highest annual tally on record. More than a million of those encounters with migrants resulted in their deportation under Title 42, according to federal statistics.

On paper, Title 42 applies both to land borders with Canada and Mexico and to migrants of all nationalities, but it has primarily been used along the southern border to turn back adult Mexican and Central American migrants to Mexico or the region of the Northern Triangle of Central America, made up of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

For diplomatic and logistical reasons, the United States has not used Title 42 on a large scale to deport migrants of other nationalities. One exception was an air deportation campaign to Haiti in the fall of 2021 following the sudden arrival of thousands of Haitian migrants in Del Rio, Texas.

For more than two years, Mexico only allowed the United States to deport Mexican and Central American migrants to its territory. But in October, Mexico announced it would accept deportations of Venezuelans as part of a broader strategy in which the United States agreed to allow up to 24,000 Venezuelans to enter the country legally.

While the Trump and Biden administrations have both described the Title 42 policy as a tool to reduce coronavirus outbreaks at border detention facilities, its public health rationale has been challenged by public health experts, including CDC officials who opposed implementing the policy.

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