HUSTON (AP) – On Wednesday, a federal judge ordered the Trump administration to stop the expulsion of immigrant children who cross the southern border on their own, halting a policy that led to thousands of rapid deportations of minors during the coronavirus pandemic.
U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan issued a preliminary injunction requested by legal groups filing cases on behalf of children the government tried to evict before they could seek asylum or other protection under federal law.
The Trump administration has expelled at least 8,800 unaccompanied children since March, when it issued an emergency declaration stating the coronavirus as a reason for banning most people crossing the border from staying in the United States.
Border agents forced many people to return to Mexico immediately, while detaining others in detention. or hotels, sometimes for days or weeks. Meanwhile, state-funded funds intended to keep children while they are housed with sponsors have thousands of unused beds.
“This policy put thousands of young children back in danger without a hearing,” said Lee Gellert, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union. “Like many other Trump administrative policies, he was cruel and illegal for free.”
The Ministry of Justice did not immediately say whether it would appeal. He appealed another federal judge’s order banning the use of hotels to detain children.
President-elect Joe Biden’s incoming administration did not say directly whether it will continue to try to expel immigrants under the direction of public health. Biden is expected to repeal several Trump administration policies restricting asylum as part of a broader immigration change.
The Trump administration has argued in court that it must expel children who have recently crossed the border – whether they have a permit or not – to prevent the infection of border agents and other people in immigration custody. The emergency statement was made by Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Department of Justice on October 2 cited the decision of “the highest public official in the field of public health,” urging Sullivan not to stops the expulsion of children.
The Associated Press reported on October 3 that senior CDC officials opposed the issuance of the declaration because it had no public health basis, but that Vice President Mike Pence ordered Redfield to move forward.
Opponents of the policy accuse the administration of using the pandemic as a pretext to curb immigration and say agents can safely check minors for COVID-19 without denying protection under federal anti-trafficking law and a court agreement governing treatment. of children.
U.S. Judge Mr. Michael Harvey recommended on September 25 that Sullivan issue an order banning the expulsion of children, saying the government was claiming power that was “breathtaking.”
The children and parents who were expelled said they would be allowed to reunite with their families in the United States, but instead be deported to their countries of origin.
A mother of 12 and 9 found out that her children had been evicted when she received a call from an employee in Honduras asking her to send a relative to pick them up.
The father of a 1-year-old girl claims agents told him and his wife to feed the girl ice if their temperatures are checked before boarding. The US Immigration and Customs Service has denied the use of ice as an artificial cooling measure.