DONALD TRUMP

Biden Administration Appeals Judge's Order to Stop Expelling Migrants Under Trump-Era Pandemic Policy

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  • The Biden administration is appealing a judge's order that bars the government from expelling migrants quickly under a Trump-era pandemic policy that doesn't allow them to apply for asylum. 
  • The policy, Title 42, was first introduced by former President Donald Trump in March 2020 over concerns about the spread of the coronavirus.
  • While President Joe Biden has worked to roll back many of Trump's hardline immigration policies, he renewed Title 42 last month after the CDC issued an updated order justifying its use due to the ongoing pandemic.

The Biden administration is appealing a judge's order to stop using the Trump-era pandemic policy that allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants without giving them a chance to apply for asylum. 

The Department of Justice on Friday filed an appeal of U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan's ruling Thursday that bars the federal government from expelling migrants under the public health law known as Title 42. Sullivan ordered the ruling to go into effect in 14 days. 

The appeal is the latest move by the Biden administration to address the 20-year-high surge of migrants from Mexico and Central America crossing the border illegally, which remains a political flashpoint between Republicans and progressive Democrats. 

Title 42 was first introduced by former President Donald Trump in March 2020 over concerns about the coronavirus pandemic. It gave the government the power to turn back any migrant caught crossing the border illegally, regardless of their country of origin, to stop the spread of Covid-19.

While President Joe Biden has worked to roll back many of his predecessor's hardline immigration policies, he renewed Title 42 last month after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an updated order justifying its use due to the ongoing pandemic.

The CDC's order said the policy would stay in effect until the border migration of non-U.S. citizens from Mexico and Canada has "ceased to be a serious danger to the public health."

Since the outset of the pandemic, more than 1 million migrants have been expelled under the policy, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data. 

Under the Trump administration, more than 444,000 migrants were sent back across the border using Title 42. And more than 690,000 migrants have been expelled through the policy since Biden took office in January.

The Biden administration's decision to maintain Title 42 was a blow to many immigration advocates and progressive Democrats who had hoped the federal government would choose to put an end to the policy after Thursday's ruling. 

"We're upset because the Biden administration is devoting its precious time & energy to fighting tooth and nail to uphold President Trump's xenophobic immigration policies, exposing thousands of people to harm," said Noah Gottschalk, the global policy lead for Oxfam America, in a Twitter post Friday.

Oxfam America is among the groups that challenged Title 42 in the lawsuit that resulted in Thursday's ruling. Other groups include the American Civil Liberties Union, Texas Civil Rights Project, the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, and the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, or RAICES.

RAICES said it is "extremely disappointed" with the decision as well.

"By defending Title 42, the Biden Administration has made it clear that it is willing to deny asylum seeking families their right to a full and fair process to receive protection in the United States," Tami Goodlette, director of litigation at Texas-based RAICES, said in a statement Friday. "The Biden Administration has a moral obligation to stop using Title 42 to harm families and children and it must stop using Title 42 in its entirety."

"We urge the White House to rectify this rash decision to appeal and end the suffering for these families once and for all," Goodlette said.

The White House and the DOJ did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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