President Joe Biden is under fire for continuing a policy used by his predecessor to expel hundreds of thousands of migrants attempting to seek asylum at the border, prompting a lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Biden administration has expelled more than 500,000 migrants at the border for health reasons, an increase from the almost 460,000 expelled under former President Donald Trump last year. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention earlier this week renewed Title 42, a public health order allowing border agents to expel migrants who arrive at the border for public health reasons and prevents them from applying for asylum.
“It’s clear there’s no end in sight to Title 42 and we will pursue an immediate injunction,” Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project and the organization’s lead attorney on this case,” told Politico. “The Biden administration asked for some time to repair the damage done by the Trump administration to the asylum process, but it has now been seven months. That’s a more than sufficient amount of time.”
He told The Hill that “We’ve been negotiating with them since the end of February and it’s now clear there is no immediate end to Title 42 in sight. They backed us into a corner and we saw no alternative but to resume the litigation.”
Gelernt added, “This is a bad look for CDC. But if you look carefully, even though they should not issue this order, they tried to thread the needle. They’re not saying there is no way to take asylum seekers; they’re saying you need to adopt mitigation protocols and that’s on” the Department of Homeland Security.
“It’s no longer a Trump policy because he’s no longer in the White House, so it is a Biden policy, and we should fix it,” Rep. Adriano Espaillat, D-N.Y., told the Hill.
“I think because COVID-19 is still very much present in the U.S. and this new variant is spreading so quickly that there’s pressure for the government to take these very strict measures that are not necessarily reflective of our values as a party or reflective of the values of the administration,” he added. “I think it’s a mistake.”
Last February, Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Fla., organized a letter signed by 60 Democratic legislators pushing Biden to abandon their defense of the Trump-era policy. She recently told the Hill that undoing the damage Trump did at the border “will take time and must be done safely and within the context of a global pandemic,” adding that “there is no reason why the administration needs to leave this issue to the courts. It can single-handedly repeal the Title 42 order and help craft a more humane asylum system that is consistent with our nation’s values and our obligations under international law.”
Wilson said, “We can and must adjust policies for international travel to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 and allow for asylum seekers with legitimate claims to reach the United States. I am confident that our immigration system can handle this challenge and is capable of chewing gum and walking at the same time.”