The Trump administration was ordered by a federal judge on Wednesday to stop expelling unaccompanied children out of the United States under a politically motivated Centers for Disease Control and Protection order that’s resulted in thousands of kids being quickly kicked out of the country without any hearings and in violation of federal law, CBS News reports.
“The cruelty of expelling children is not only morally reprehensible, it is clearly illegal,” tweeted ACLU Border Rights Center policy counsel Shaw Drake in response to the ruling. “This decision is an important step in restoring the rights of unaccompanied children at the border.” Over 9,000 children have been expelled under the public heath order, which used the novel coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to bypass law and was implemented under political pressure from the White House.
“In a two-page order, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia said unaccompanied migrant children who are taken into custody by border officials must be afforded the safeguards Congress established for them,” CBS News reported, “and placed in shelters overseen by the government during their immigration proceedings.”
But the Trump administration under White House aide and noted white supremacist Stephen Miller has sought to completely bypass this, demanding the CDC approve an order that used the pandemic as pretext to summarily expel children. Agency officials reportedly pressed back at first, saying there was no valid public health reason for such an order. That was correct. But facing pressure from Miller, soon-to-be-former vice president Mike Pence went straight to director Robert Redfield, who caved.
While another federal judge in September also ordered a near-stop to the administration’s despicable practice of detaining kids at hotels while it seeks to quickly expel them, The Washington Post reported that career officials at the CDC were also being pressured to sign an order supporting that practice in an attempt to justify it to the court. So far, officials have declined.
Like I noted before, Redfield ignored not just his own agency in giving in to Pence and Miller’s reprehensible bullying on the mass expulsion order, but hundreds of health experts who said that it wasn’t just devoid of fact and set to harm children, but is also blatantly unlawful.
The ruling, however, does not cover adults and their children, who are also getting expelled under the order. “The government has expelled more than 147,000 people since March, including adults, and parents and children traveling together,” ABC News reported. So this fight must continue for the protection of all families. But today, this is an important win. For many children, it’ll be lifesaving. It’s unclear so far if the administration will fight the ruling. If it does, it must be up to the incoming Biden administration to do away with the policy.
"This cruel and unlawful policy, like so many others from the Trump administration, was putting thousands of children in grave danger," American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt told CBS News. “Like so many other Trump administration policies, it was gratuitously cruel and unlawful,” he continued to ABC News.