(PresidentialWire.com)- The Trump administration was dealt a blow by a federal court Wednesday in regard to immigration policy.
The court said the administration must stop deporting unaccompanied migrant children under a program they instituted allowing immigration officials to expel asylum seekers from the southern border on the sole account of the coronavirus pandemic.
So far, at least 13,000 children have already been deported under this policy. Critics have complained that this has often been done even if the children show no signs of coronavirus symptoms. There’s also been little or no notice to either their parents or any legal counsel that it was being done.
Immigration officials are also required to transfer migrant children to the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement within 72 hours of being apprehended. There, they are providing with the opportunity to pursue asylum and other forms of protection in America, and are also given access to a lawyer.
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District court ruled Wednesday that the Trump administration invoked the pandemic illegally to keep asylum seekers out of the country.
An anonymous plaintiff in the lawsuit was a 16-year-old who fled Guatemala because he was receiving death threats due to his father’s political opinions, and because he wouldn’t join a gang. He was hoping to join his father, who was already living in America and was awaiting deportation proceedings.
When this 16-year-old arrived at the southern border, US Customs and Border Protection in Texas took him into custody and put him through the rapid expulsion program.
Once the ACLU filed this lawsuit that challenged the policy, the 16-year-old plaintiff was taken out of that program voluntarily by the government. He was sent instead to an HHS facility.
The Trump administration began instituting their plan to expel migrants to Mexico, using Title 42 of the Public Health Safety Act. That title allows the federal government to block non-citizens temporarily from entering America “when doing so is required in the interest of public health.”
The president also instituted other policies that made seeking asylum in the U.S. next to impossible for almost all people who arrived at the border. One of those policies sent thousands of asylum seekers back to Mexico while they awaited immigration court hearings.
The administration also came to agreement with some countries in Central America that allowed immigration officials to deport some migrants who passed through the Central American countries en route to the United States.
The Trump administration primarily relied on Title 42 to impose their immigration policy, though. In fact, the administration put the policy in place, effective until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s director determines the further spread of coronavirus has “ceased to be a serious danger to public health.”
Many people, though, have claimed there’s no public health benefit to the policy, and that there are other ways the U.S. can give protection to some vulnerable immigrants.
President-elect Joe Biden said he may keep Title 42 in place temporarily upon taking office, though he has promised to undo most of Trump’s immigration policies.