U.S. cannot exempt children from border policy for deportation, judge decides in case of illegal immigration

Biden administration officials’ decision to exempt unaccompanied minors from a Trump-era directive that has been utilized by U.S. border officers to quickly remove hundreds of thousands of migrants amid the coronavirus pandemic was ruled against by a federal judge in Texas on Friday.

 

U.S. District Court Judge Mark Pittman granted a plea from Republican officials in Texas to stop the Biden administration from exempting migrant children traveling without their parents from the pandemic-era expulsion regulation known as Title 42, a component of the U.S. public health statute.

 

 

 

The latest judicial success for Texas’ Republican government, which has launched many challenges against President Biden’s immigration and border policies since his inauguration, was Friday’s verdict by Pittman, who was appointed by former President Trump in 2019.

After thwarting a proposed 100-day pause on deportations in January, Texas successfully convinced a federal court to order U.S. border agents back into the Trump-era program that allows migrants to wait for their asylum hearings in Mexico.

Within hours of the federal appeals court’s decision to block the Biden administration from using Title 42 to remove migrant families traveling with children to areas where they could be injured or tortured, Pittman issued a decision denying the government’s request. So far, that order has not been implemented.

 

The Title 42 policy, which was first implemented in March 2020, permits U.S. immigration authorities to deport migrants to Mexico or their home countries without assessing them for asylum or allowing them to appear in front of a judge. According to government data, more than 1.6 million migrant expulsions have taken place so far.

 

According to the Biden administration’s rationale for keeping Title 42 expulsions in place, the coronavirus is spreading in border detention centers. Under the leadership of Vice President Biden, U.S. border officers have used Title 42 to deport most adult migrants and some families with youngsters.

 

Because of their special status as unaccompanied minors, the Biden administration has opted not to deport them. Instead, as required by a 2008 anti-trafficking statute, authorities have been sending unaccompanied minors to shelters under the supervision of the Department of Health and Human Services.

 

Unaccompanied minors who are taken into the care of HHS remain there until they are reunited with sponsors, usually family members in the United States. Immigrant advantages like visas for children who have been mistreated, neglected, or abandoned can help them stay in the United States permanently.

 

He claimed on Friday that the Biden administration failed to adequately defend last summer’s Title 42 exemption for unaccompanied adolescents, calling it “arbitrary and capricious” in breach of federal administrative law, the directives of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

 

Additionally, Pittman acknowledged that migrant children who have not been expelled could spread the coronavirus.

 

COVID-19 positive unaccompanied alien children are now exempt from Title 42 procedures, which were instituted to stop the spread of the virus, the president said in a 37-page order.

 

According to the Biden administration, all unaccompanied minors are tested for coronavirus upon transfer to HHS, which has also administered immunizations to minors who are eligible for the vaccine.

Title 42 exclusions, Pittman claimed Friday, have cost Texas money in terms of education and medical care for migrant children who have relocated to the state.

 

The fiscal year 2021 saw a record number of unaccompanied minors crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. All-time high: HHS shelters received over 122,000 people, the most in a single year.

 

In light of Friday’s court decision, it isn’t clear if the government will begin expulsions of unaccompanied youngsters. Prior to a federal judge blocking the practice in November 2020, almost 16,000 unaccompanied minors were expelled under Title 42 during the Trump administration.

 

Asked how the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) would comply with Friday’s court ruling, DHS representatives did not immediately answer questions. For a period of seven days, Pittman put his order on hold to allow the government to file an appeal. An inquiry by the Justice Department, which would be filing the appeal, was not returned.

 

“Harrowing testimonies” from children she interviewed after they were expelled were brought up by lawyer Neha Desi of the National Center for Youth Law, who is representing migrant adolescents in a landmark lawsuit.

 

“This decision will put thousands of children in harm’s path,” Desai told CBS News, “requiring the Biden Administration to stop unaccompanied children from seeking protection at our borders.” Forbidding minors from seeking sanctuary and expulsion to life-threatening hazards has no public health purpose.

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