Trump Policy to Expel Migrant Children Blocked by U.S. Judge

The Trump administration must stop expelling migrant children who cross into the U.S. on their own, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday.

U.S. District Judge Emmett Sullivan in Washington blocked an order by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection that authorized the immediate expulsion of unaccompanied minors who crossed the southern border during the pandemic. The policy has led to at least 2,000 rapid deportations, according to court papers.

In the past, unaccompanied minors who journeyed into the country from Mexico would receive a full hearing from an immigration judge and enter into the care of the Office of Refugee and Resettlement. But during the pandemic, the C.D.C. policy, instituted for public health reasons, has given U.S. immigration officials the authority to expel migrant children without going through that process.

The surge of unaccompanied minors seeking to enter the U.S. has created one of the country’s most urgent public-policy debates. In the 2019 fiscal year, U.S. Customs and Border Protection apprehended 76,020 minors at the border, a more than 50% increase from the previous year.

The U.S. cast that surge as a potential public health threat during the pandemic. But in his order Wednesday, Sullivan noted that the law cited by the U.S. to justify its policy doesn’t contain the word “expel.”

‘Irreparable Harm’

“They do not even contain synonyms of the word ‘expel,’ such as ‘eject’ or ‘evict,’” Sullivan wrote in issuing a preliminary injunction.

The case was brought by advocacy groups including the American Civil Liberties Union that were representing a Guatemalan teenager who was turned away at the border.

“The administration has circumvented the process created by Congress to deal with unaccompanied minors,” the plaintiffs wrote in their complaint. “Unaccompanied children are suffering and will continue to suffer irreparable harm.”

The Justice Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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