Courts Issue Conflicting Orders on Border Asylum Limits | Politics

SAN DIEGO, AP — A federal appeals court on Friday upheld sweeping asylum restrictions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but reinstated protections to prevent migrant families from being deported back to their home countries. origin without having the opportunity to plead their case.

Almost simultaneously, a federal judge in another case ruled that the Biden administration had wrongly exempted unaccompanied children from the restrictions and ordered that they be subject to them within a week, allowing time for an emergency appeal.

The conflicting rulings have introduced legal uncertainty into the future of rules that deny migrants the chance to seek asylum on the grounds that they risk spreading COVID-19.

U.S. authorities have deported migrants more than 1.6 million times at the Mexican border without the ability to seek humanitarian protections since March 2020. The Biden administration has expanded the use of the Title 42 authority, named after a 1944 Public Health Act.

The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia noted COVID-19 concerns could prevent migrant families from obtaining asylum to stay in the United States.

But, the judges said, migrants can seek other forms of humanitarian protection that would save them from being sent home if they are at risk of torture or persecution. Under a benefit called “removal detention” and the UN Convention Against Torture, migrants can be sent to third countries considered safe alternatives if their home country is too dangerous.

A panel of three judges — two appointed by President Barack Obama and one by President Donald Trump — strongly questioned the Biden administration’s use of Title 42.

Judge Justin Walker, a Trump appointee who wrote the unanimous decision, noted that health concerns have changed dramatically since the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced the asylum restrictions a while ago. two years. He wrote that it was “far from clear that the CDC order serves any purpose” to protect public health.

“The CDC’s order in some ways feels like a relic from an era without vaccines, with few tests, few therapeutics, and few certainties,” he wrote.

Walker noted that the Biden administration has not provided detailed evidence to support the restrictions.

“We are not cavalier about the risks of COVID-19. And we would appreciate statements on the record from CDC officials testifying to the Order’s effectiveness. But there isn’t,” he wrote.

In the other decision, Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman sided with the state of Texas, which argued President Joe Biden wrongfully broke with Trump by exempting children traveling alone for medical reasons. humanitarians. He noted the increase in the number of unaccompanied children at the border after the change.

Pittman, who is based in Fort Worth, Texas, said it was “incomprehensible” that the case was even being argued. He said “there should be no disagreement that current immigration policies should be focused on stopping the spread of COVID-19.”

Immigration advocates have claimed at least a partial victory for the Washington, DC appeals court ruling.

“Today’s decision did not overturn Title 42, but it does create legal and procedural safeguards to protect immigrants. Going forward, immigrants cannot be deported without a security assessment,” said Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, executive director of Lawyers for Civil Rights.

Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union, who argued the case on behalf of asylum-seeking families, called the decision a “huge victory”.

“The court’s decision leaves no doubt that this brutal policy has caused serious harm to asylum-seeking families and must stop,” he said.

The Justice Department declined to comment.

Supporters of immigration restrictions were reassured by the Texas decision.

“This is a truly historic victory, but we have a long, long, long way to go to end the administration’s crusade to eradicate our sovereignty,” said Stephen Miller, an architect of immigration policies at Trump who is now president of American First Legal, a legal advocacy group.

Mexico accepts migrants deported under Title 42 from Mexico, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras. The United States can deport migrants from other countries, but it is more difficult due to costs, logistical issues and diplomatic relations. The number of asylum seekers has increased from Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela, all countries with frosty relations with the United States.

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