The Biden administration must stop quickly expelling migrant families with children who cross the US-Mexico border using a policy adopted by the Trump former administration, a federal judge rules.
The Biden administration has employed the so-called Title 42 policy to swiftly return migrant families apprehended at the border without giving them the chance to apply for asylum.
The decision by federal district court Judge Emmet Sullivan on Thursday comes in a class action lawsuit filed by families who argue Title 42 wrongly blocks them from seeking humanitarian protections.
According to the decision, the Biden administration has 14 days in order to begin processing families. Title 42 denies “the proposed class members’ the opportunity to seek humanitarian benefits pursuant to the immigration statutes” the judge wrote, adding that they have shown the “likelihood of suffering irreparable harm.”
Last year, Sullivan ruled that children who arrive alone must be allowed to enter the country and the Biden administration has been doing so ever since.
However, in August alone the administration used Title 42 to expel over 16,000 “individuals in a family unit” among the 93,000 people removed under the policy last month.
Those who are forced to leave the US are often returned to Mexico or their country of origin.
On Wednesday, the administration resumed repatriation flights to Haiti, expelling 86 Haitians as the country faces political uncertainty and recovers from a devastating earthquake.
“President Biden should have ended this cruel and lawless policy long ago, and the court was correct to reject it today,” Omar Jadwat, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said in a statement following the ruling.
Rising border crossings have created a political headache for President Joe Biden, who stands accused of inciting a chaotic migrant rush on the US border with Mexico after he vowed to unwind many of the immigration policies of his predecessor Donald Trump, when he assumed office in January.
His policies led to an influx of refugees and migrant children from South and Central America to the southern US border in recent months.
The influx of unaccompanied children at the border has become an issue for the Biden administration, which ordered to use Trump-era detainment facilities to house migrant children.