(CNN) –– The administration of President Joe Biden will defend in court on Wednesday the use of a controversial Trump-era policy that resulted in the deportation of more than 1 million migrants arrested at the US-Mexico border.
The public health authority, known as Title 42, was invoked at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, despite suspicions among some officials that he was politically motivated. The measure allows authorities to quickly expel immigrants who are at the southern border of the US, which prevents asylum seekers from presenting their case and marks a deviation from the previous protocol.
The use of this policy has drawn harsh criticism from immigrant advocates, attorneys and health experts, who argue that it has no basis in health and puts immigrants in danger. The United Nations refugee agency has also rejected measure.
But this Wednesday, Justice Department attorneys will argue before the US Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington that the public health order is needed.
The lawsuit against the measure to deport migrants
The court proceedings this Wednesday stem from a lawsuit that was filed last January. At the time, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and others challenged Trump-era border policy on behalf of immigrant families. The ACLU also questioned subjecting unaccompanied children to this policy, even though they are now exempt.
“We are going back to court because the Biden administration has chosen to continue this brutal policy against families. Despite the absence of any support from public health officials,” said Lee Gelernt, ACLU member and attorney principal in the litigation.
The plaintiffs in the case negotiated with the government for several months. And, as part of the litigation, the ACLU referred some families for admission to the US.
However, those negotiations fell through when the Biden administration decided to maintain the public health order. A decision that angered immigrant advocates who, they argue, should stop being implemented.
The National Security Argument
At the time, a top Homeland Security official, who has since left the government, exposed during a judicial presentation an extreme image of what would happen if the public health order were lifted. As part of his argument, he pointed to a surge of immigrants at the US-Mexico border that had overwhelmed the facilities.
“These encounter rates (of immigrants) have strained the operations of the Department of Homeland Security. And have caused border facilities to fill beyond their normal operating capacity. Which affects the ability to employ social distancing in these environments. At the same time, the department is also experiencing a significant increase in rates of non-citizens testing positive for COVID-19,” the August statement said. The communication also noted that the risk had increased due to the highly transmissible delta variant of the coronavirus.
Concerns about the measure to deport migrants
The government remains dependent on the public health order. And when asked about it, the White House refers the matter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which, according to a spokesperson, considers it necessary given the delta and omicron variants. .
That has done little to allay the concerns of immigration attorneys, advocates and public health experts.
“The Biden administration’s argument that it should be allowed to remove refugees because it wants that power cannot change the fact that Title 42 is an illegal and xenophobic policy, which doctors and other public health experts have made clear and repeatedly fails to stop the spread of COVID-19,” Diana Kearney, senior legal counsel for Oxfam America, said in a statement.
In a recent report, Human Rights First found nearly 9,000 reports of kidnappings and other violent attacks against people who were deported to Mexico or who were unable to seek protection in the US.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism