A federal judge on Tuesday ordered the Biden administration to lift Trump-era asylum restrictions that have been a cornerstone of border enforcement since the start of Covid-19.
US District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled in Washington that the foreclosures must be stopped immediately for families and single adults, calling the ban “arbitrary and capricious.” The administration did not apply it to children traveling alone.
Within hours, the Justice Department asked a judge to make the order effective Dec. 21, giving her five weeks to prepare. Prosecutors, including the American Civil Liberties Union, did not oppose the delay.
“This transition period is crucial to ensure that [the Department of Homeland Security] can continue to carry out its mission of securing the nation’s borders and conducting its border operations in an orderly manner,” government lawyers wrote.
Sullivan, who was appointed by Bill Clinton, wrote in the 49-page ruling that authorities failed to consider the impact on migrants and possible alternatives. The ruling appears to contradict another in May by a federal judge in Louisiana that upheld asylum restrictions.
If Sullivan’s ruling stands, it would invalidate the implementation of the border measures. Migrants have been deported from the US more than 2.4 million times since the rule took effect in March 2020, denying migrants the right to seek asylum under US and international law based on preventing the spread of Covid. This practice is authorized under Title 42 of the broader Public Health Act of 1944.
Before a Louisiana judge upheld the ban in May, US officials said they were planning for as many as 18,000 migrants a day under the most challenging scenario, a staggering number. In May, migrants were stopped an average of 7,800 times a day, which is the most since Joe Biden’s presidency.
Immigration advocacy groups have pushed hard to repeal Title 42, but more moderate Democrats, including Sens. Mark Kelly of Arizona and Raphael Warnock of Georgia, wanted it to stay when the administration tried to repeal it in May.
The ban is unevenly enforced by nationality, mostly affecting migrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador – along with Mexicans – as Mexico allows them to return from the US. Last month, Mexico began accepting Venezuelans deported from the United States under Title 42, causing a sharp drop in Venezuelans seeking asylum at the U.S. border.
Citizens less likely to be subject to Title 42 have become increasingly present at the border, confident that they will be allowed into the US to pursue their immigration cases. In October, Cubans were the second largest nationality at the border after Mexicans, followed by Venezuelans and Nicaraguans.
The Department of Homeland Security said it would use the next five weeks to “prepare for an orderly transition to the new policies at the border.”
“We continue to work with countries across the Western Hemisphere to take action against the smuggling networks that lure migrants to make the dangerous and often deadly journey to our land borders and to address the root causes of irregular migration that challenge our hemisphere as a whole,” he said. is a department.
ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said Sullivan’s ruling renders the Louisiana ruling moot.
“This is a huge victory for desperate asylum seekers who have been denied even a hearing due to abuse of public laws,” Gelernt said. “This ruling hopefully puts an end to this horrific period in US history where we have abandoned our solemn obligation to provide sanctuary to those facing persecution.”
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy adviser for the American Immigration Council, an immigrant advocacy group, distinguished Sullivan’s ruling from that of U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Louisiana, a Donald Trump appointee, which only addressed how the Biden administration tried to end Title 42 .Sullivan considered the entire rule invalid.