Court Halts Use Of Health Order To Expel Migrant Families (KPBS Midday Edition


A federal judge has ruled that the U.S. government must stop using a Trump-era public health order to quickly expel migrants with children who are apprehended along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Speaker 1: 00:00 A federal judge has ruled the government must stop using a public health order to refuse entry to immigrant families at the border title. 42 allows customs officials to ban asylum seekers from us detention facilities to stop the spread of COVID-19 critics claim. The Trump era policy virtually shut down the nation’s asylum system. The injunction ruling by the judge gives the government 14 days to stop the policy. Meanwhile, an ACL OU lawsuit is still underway in an effort to find title 42 used in this way. As unlawful joining me is legal land. He is deputy director of ACL use immigrants rights project and Lee welcome.

Speaker 2: 00:46 Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: 00:47 Why is this Trump era policy still in effect anyway, eight months into the Biden administration?

Speaker 2: 00:53 Well, that’s exactly the right question. You know, we expected the Biden administration to get rid of it. It is the most extreme asylum policy enacted by the Trump administration. The byte administration came to us in the beginning and said, well, look, the system is in shambles after the Trump administration, just give us some time to get it back up and running. We said, okay, we’ll put our lawsuit on hold. We gave them more than six months. They still didn’t end the policy. They still didn’t enact the measures that we were hoping for. And so finally, we had to go back to court and fortunately a court has now ruled that the policy is unlawful. We didn’t think it was justified as a public health measure when the Trump administration did it. And it’s certainly not at this point, uh, warrant that as a public health measure, the statute doesn’t give the authority to the executive branch to do this. In any event, they have plenty of steps to take to safely process families. Instead, the Biden administration is sending families back to just gruesome danger. Cartels are literally waiting on the other side of the bridge to pick off these families. When the Biden administration sends them back across the bridge.

Speaker 1: 02:04 Is there any evidence that title 42 has protected us citizens or even people in detention centers from spreading COVID

Speaker 2: 02:12 Two points. One is we’re not aware of evidence that this is protecting us citizens. The second point, which I think is critical is that families do not need to be detained. And the Biden administration is to their credit, not detaining families. So this whole notion that if the family is in a Congress detention center, then it will be a problem. They don’t need to detain families. And in fact, we were getting families tested on the Mexican side. So the only families that were coming across on the, on the bridges where people who had tested positive, what’s critical for people to understand is that CDC has said it’s possible to safely process asylum seekers. DHS just needs to take the steps to do that and still hasn’t done it. So really what the CDC is doing is indicting DHS. CDC is by no means saying we must send these families back to danger. There’s no way to safely process. So they’re saying DHS start taking the mitigation steps. We have outlined months and months ago,

Speaker 1: 03:12 The Biden administration already lifted title 42 restrictions on children, traveling alone, seeking asylum. Why was that part of the policy ended? So

Speaker 2: 03:22 We unfortunately think is that by an administration may be making various calculations, not based on asylum law and political calculations. They took that step in response to a lawsuit, the ACLU and our, and our, um, colleagues filed. We are grateful that they stopped applying it to children, but now they’re still applying it to families with small children, sending them back to Bruce in danger. What the CDC said is you were able to safely process children. When we told you what steps to take, how come you haven’t taken those steps in six months. And so from the legal standpoint, title 42, just states to be abolished with respect to children, families, and adults. And we think given the harm to families, and now given that a court is enjoined, it, we hope the Biden administration will not appeal this ruling, but we are hearing that they likely will.

Speaker 1: 04:14 This week’s ruling on title 42 seems like the opposite of the ruling. Last month on the so-called return to Mexico policy, that’s where asylum seekers are expelled across the border to wait for their asylum claims to be heard in court. How does the title 42 injunction impact the return to Mexico policy?

Speaker 2: 04:35 We’ll have to wait and see how, how they to interact. I mean, at this point we don’t know that and the return to Mexico policy will ever be put into effect. I think the ruling still allows the byte administration to justify ending, remain in Mexico. They still need Mexico as agreement, but you know, it’s a complicated system of overlapping policies at the border. We’ll have to see. But what we have always said is title 42 as a public health measure, it can be used required testing quarantine where necessary, but it can’t be used as an immigration policy measure. So we need title 42 to end, and then we will fight to continue there, uh, end of remain in Mexico because that has also put as you know, tens of thousands of people in danger. So this is unfortunate that there are so many policies enacted by the Trump administration. And we are just trying to challenge one after another and have been. And I think we have a long fight ahead of us, but this was a good first step this week,

Speaker 1: 05:35 The bond administration has been getting criticized by both the right and the left on how it’s handling the problems in the immigration system. As you mentioned, many of those problems inherited from the last administration, how do you think the Biden administration is doing and what more needs to be done?

Speaker 2: 05:52 So I think overall, the Biden ministration has enacted many good policies on immigration, but at the border and some other places they’re not doing the right thing. And because they are being attacked from the left and the right, I think they ought to just do what they think is right. And what more importantly the law requires. And that means that the board are giving people asylum hearings. So on some things they’ve done well on other things they’ve not, but right now at the border, you know, it’s no different than what the Trump administration was doing, which was expelling families summarily back to danger without a hearing. And that’s unfortunate for the byte administration to be talking about a humane system, but then keeping title 42 in place and likely appealing this judge’s ruling rather than simply accepting it.

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