The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled Thursday that the Biden administration can resume the use of Title 42 to expel migrants who crossed illegally into the United States.
Title 42 was enacted during the Trump administration as a public health measure used by immigration officials to quickly deport anyone who came into the country without authorization over concerns about spreading COVID-19.
The appeals court issued a temporary stay just days after a ruling from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who said that the use of Title 42 to expel families from the U.S. was likely against federal law. Sullivan ordered the government to discontinue implementing Title 42 by the end of September. His order didn’t apply to individuals, reports noted.
But the higher court’s decision gives the Biden administration the green light to continue utilizing Title 42 to deport migrants even as the issue continues to be litigated in court. The administration has argued that the law is key to preventing the spread of the virus while the pandemic lingers, especially as illegal border crossings have skyrocketed since the first of the year after President Joe Biden reversed many of his predecessor’s immigration and border enforcement policies.
Lawyers for pro-immigrant groups criticized the ruling.
“If the Biden administration really wants to treat asylum seekers humanely, it should end this lawless policy now and withdraw its appeal,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said, Fox News reported. “We will continue fighting to end this illegal policy.”
In late September, the administration employed Title 42 to quickly deport thousands of Haitian migrants who illegally crossed and set up an encampment under the international bridge near Del Rio, Texas. Democrats, as well as open borders advocates, ripped the administration for expelling them.
But the numbers of migrants crossing illegally this year have jumped significantly over previous years. For instance, Customs and Border Protection officials reported in excess of 200,000 encounters with illegal migrants along the U.S.-Mexico border in August alone, which was an increase of 317 percent from the previous year. More than 93,000 of them, over 44 percent, were expelled under the auspices of Title 42. And some reports estimate that the number of illegal immigrant encounters this year has surpassed 1.3 million, many of whom have been allowed to remain inside the U.S. awaiting asylum hearings in clogged immigration courts.
Regarding the Haitian migration, Panamanian officials said they have warned the Biden administration that tens of thousands more are on their way to the U.S. border. The country’s foreign minister, Erika Mouynes, appeared to express frustration with the administration’s policies as she noted this week that as many as 85,000 are headed north to the U.S.
“[W]e all have a role to play in this issue, and the regional approach is the correct approach” because “it is impossible for Panama to solve it on its own,” she told Axios, adding that her government “sounded the alarm when we should have.”
“We’ve engaged with every single authority that we can think of, that we can come across, to say, ‘Please, let’s pay attention to this,’” Mouynes said. “Let’s recognize that they all are heading toward the U.S.”
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