U.S. border officials must halt their practice of expelling migrant families under a pandemic-related public health order, a federal court said in the latest legal whiplash for the Biden administration’s immigration policies.
The policy, known as Title 42, allows the Department of Homeland Security to immediately send back individuals who enter the U.S. without authorization. That approach likely interferes with border crossers’ right to apply for asylum here, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said Thursday in a major win for immigrants’ rights advocates.
The ruling is the latest example of how federal courts are determining the fate of the Biden administration’s immigration and border security policies. Though Title 42 arose during the Trump administration, Biden officials have kept it in place, with some exceptions, as Covid-19 variants continue to spread.
Other recent court decisions have forced the administration to pursue a restart of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy affecting asylum-seekers and halted Biden officials’ immigration enforcement priorities — though that ruling has since been narrowed.
The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have long criticized DHS’s ongoing application of Title 42, though President Joe Biden’s administration stopped expelling unaccompanied children and has made exceptions for some families.
“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 ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement.
The ruling also shakes up the Biden administration’s already strained efforts to handle record numbers of migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border. The court’s order takes effect in two weeks, allowing time for a possible appeal.
The case is Huisha-Huisha v. Mayorkas, D.D.C., No. 1:21-cv-00100, 9/16/21.