U.S. appeals court on Thursday, Sept. 30 allowed the Biden administration to keep expelling illegal migrants due to COVID-19 risks.
The border policy, known as Title 42, materialized under the Trump administration when the COVID-19 pandemic started to reveal its devastating power in March 2020.
Under the policy, officials can directly return illegal migrants without court hearings or asylum screenings. This was justified to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
The Biden administration has recently resumed Title 42 to counter the massive surge of Haitian asylum seekers arriving at Del Rio, Texas.
Using the Title 42 policy, the administration rapidly expelled thousands of people—including families with small children—back to Haiti.
The administration does not screen all migrants for COVID-19 unless they show symptoms. The Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said it could not afford the procedure in crowded stations.
Title 42 was ordered to be suspended by the end of September by a district court judge after civil rights groups and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a lawsuit against the measure, Axios reported.
“We were making progress in the negotiations, getting thousands of families to safety through the exemption process we created,” ACLU’s lead attorney on the case Lee Gelernt told Axios. “But minimizing the damage of the Title 42 policy was never the goal; it was ending it completely.”
The judge argued that the expulsion will strip the asylum seekers from the opportunity to seek “humanitarian benefits,” to which they are entitled, according to Reuters. The order looks to protect families only and does not include single adults.
The outlet said the court decided the Biden administration has “satisfied the stringent requirements” for the district judge’s order to be postponed.
The ACLU was disappointed but vowed to keep challenging Title 42.
“If the Biden administration really wants to treat asylum seekers humanely, it should end this lawless policy now and withdraw its appeal,” Gelert said in a statement.
The recent influx of illegal migrants in Del Rio comprises mostly Haitian nationals. Their country has been struggling through poverty, hunger, earthquake aftermaths, political unrest, and surging street crimes.
According to CBS News, under Title 42, the Biden administration has largely deported single migrants. Data from CBP said 19% of the families crossing the U.S. border illegally were expelled, whereas some 80% of the families have been spared from the pandemic border policy.
In terms of the Haitians, the U.S. had carried out 57 deportation flights to Haiti as of Thursday night, removing 6,100 migrants in just 12 days.