A federal judge on Tuesday ordered a full stop to the Stephen Miller-era public health order that’s used the novel coronavirus to quickly deport asylum-seekers. The ruling is a momentous victory for organizations that had sued both the Trump and Biden administration over their use of the debunked policy, stating it violated the U.S. rights of vulnerable people.
Judge Emmett Sullivan has previously issued rulings preventing both administrations from fully carrying out the policy. In his latest decision this week, “Sullivan said the rule violates the Administrative Procedures Act and argued that it’s ‘arbitrary and capricious,'" NBC News reported, and that "the CDC failed to properly explain the rationale for authorizing an unprecedented expulsion authority," CBS News said.
Whistleblower reports have already revealed how Miller and Mike Pence pressured the CDC to implement the order against the advice of actual public health experts.
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The Biden administration is not appealing the ruling, but did say in a statement that it would request a delay in the order’s implementation to “allow the government to prepare for an orderly transition to new policies at the border.” Sullivan granted that request and stayed the decision until Dec. 21, noting that organizations that had sued over the policy did not oppose it.
Legal advocates called the ruling “a huge victory," saying that for more than two years now, “the Title 42 policy has unjustly slammed the door on people seeking safety in the United States.”
"Desperate families, children, and adults have been deprived of their right to seek asylum and returned to countries where they face violence, torture, and even death,” Melissa Crow, director of litigation at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “Today’s ruling affirms that there has never been a public health rationale for expelling asylum seekers to danger. The Biden administration must now heed the court’s order and swiftly restart asylum processing at the southern border.”
After choosing to enforce Miller's order for more than a year, the Biden administration had planned to begin winding down the policy in May of this year but was blocked by a Louisiana judge appointed by the insurrectionist for president. Since then, the Biden administration expanded the use of the policy beyond what was required by the court, announcing that Venezuelans seeking refuge at the southern border would be quickly expelled to Mexico.
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt said, “Sullivan's ruling essentially overrides the Louisiana court’s decision to stop the Biden administration from ending Title 42,” NBC News noted. “This is a huge victory and one that literally has life-and-death stakes,” he said in the statement received by Daily Kos. “We have said all along that using Title 42 against asylum seekers was inhumane and driven purely by politics. Hopefully, this ruling will end this horrific policy once and for all.”
Expanded availability of vaccines, federal data suggesting most Americans can stop masking, and President Biden’s declaration that the pandemic is “over” flew in the face of continued use of the policy under supposed public health reasoning. It’s clear this is a public health order that’s been misused by multiple administrations as an immigration policy, and one that stomps on the rights of vulnerable people. It’s not only an affront to our values, it’s an affront to our laws.
In ending the use of Title 42, the federal government will restore our asylum system to how it was the day before the policy was put in place in March 2020. Let’s start to make improvements to our system from there, advocates say.
“This is an opportunity for a reset for the Biden administration to enact a functional, orderly, and humane set of policies that upholds and advances our values and laws,” said America’s Voice executive director Vanessa Cárdenas. Continuing Title 42 does none of that. Advocates also urged the Biden administration to phase out use of the order without increasing detention. Remember, many people seeking new lives in our nation already have relatives here.
“Every person should have the right to move and live freely, without fear of being separated from their loved ones or displaced from their home,” Silky Shah, executive director of Detention Watch Network, said in a statement received by Daily Kos. “The midterm elections made clear how millions of people are coming together to reject attempts to divide us based on what we look like, where we come from, or where we live. Now, the Biden administration has a moral mandate to advance an agenda of humanity and dignity by acting urgently to scale back the immigration detention system.”
Judge blocks Trump admin policy using pandemic as excuse to quickly kick out asylum-seeking children
Court orders Biden admin to stop deporting families under Stephen Miller-pushed Title 42 policy
Testimony confirms Title 42 was never about public health, it was about deporting asylum-seekers