CHICAGO, IL - On Friday, March 4, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously ruled that the U.S. government cannot expel families to places where they may face persecution or torture. Hours later, a federal district court in Texas ruled that the U.S. government must expel unaccompanied children who have been exempted from such expulsions since late 2020, returning them to danger. For two years, under both the Trump and Biden administrations, U.S. Customs and Border Protection has carried out over 1.6 million expulsions based on a public health statute from Title 42 of the U.S. federal code. These expulsions have sealed the U.S. border for asylum-seeking families, adults, and children, despite the decades-old fundamental right of asylum under domestic and international law.
National Immigrant Justice Center (NIJC) National Director of Legal Services Lisa Koop stated the following in response to these two rulings:
“The disparate decisions from federal courts last Friday are yet another unambiguous message to this administration that they must finally end this Trump-era policy. With unaccompanied children once again at risk of these deadly and unlawful expulsions, the Biden administration must act swiftly to end this policy once and for all.
“NIJC has witnessed firsthand the devastating harms of Title 42 expulsions, which has subjected migrants and asylum seekers to thousands of acts of violence as well as family separations.
“At best, Title 42 reads as an outdated policy—or as the D.C. Circuit Court pointed out, ‘a relic from an era with no vaccines, scarce testing, few therapeutics, and little certainty.’ In March 2020, the prior administration steamrolled experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Protection into enacting this expulsion policy. There was no justification for it then, and there is no justification for it now—as the U.S. has widely available vaccine and testing capacity and most states have loosened COVID-19 restrictions. At worst, Title 42 reads like an archaic, racist trope of equating migration with contagion. That’s because the prior administration fulfilled a longstanding agenda of white supremacist policy: shutting out Black, Brown, and Indigenous people seeking protection at our borders.
“Once again, we call on the Biden administration to do the right thing and listen to public health experts, more than 100 members of Congress, prominent U.S. Senators, and top advisors from the administration to end this deadly and unlawful expulsion policy.”