Immigration Law

ACLU intends to pursue suit after Biden administration continues expelling those arriving illegally

  • Print.

immigration flag and gavel concept

Image from Shutterstock.

Plaintiffs who challenged a Trump administration policy to expel people entering the country illegally have said they plan to continue pursuing their lawsuit after reaching an impasse in negotiations with the Biden administration.

In a joint filing with Department of Justice lawyers, the Immigrants’ Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation asked for a new briefing schedule in the case.

Reuters, the Washington Post, Law360, NPR and Politico have coverage.

The lawyers said the policy violates immigration statutes requiring that asylum-seekers receive a full and fair proceeding to determine their right to protection.

The breakdown in negotiations happened after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Monday extended a public health order authorizing continued expulsion of immigrants at the border because of COVID-19 risks.

The order will be reevaluated in 60 days. The CDC indicated that the order will be in effect as long as necessary to protect the public health amid coronavirus concerns.

The CDC order was issued under Title 42 of the Public Health Service Act of 1944, the DOJ said in a court filing Monday.

NPR noted that President Joe Biden reversed many of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, but he continued to use Title 42.

“The Biden administration has left us no choice but to go back to court. It’s been seven months, and Title 42 is still in place,” said Lee Gelernt, a lawyer for the ACLU, in an interview with NPR. “We believe this is our only option.”

The Title 42 order applies to noncitizens traveling from Canada and Mexico who do not have proper travel documents or who are entering the county illegally. The immigrants are returned to the border country from which they entered. Exceptions are made for unaccompanied noncitizen children and others who deserve an exception based on the “totality of the circumstances.”

Border facilities are filled beyond their normal operating capacity because of the surge of noncitizens entering the United States, according to an affidavit filed with the court by David Shahoulian, the assistant secretary for border and immigration policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

The case is Huisha-Huisha v. Mayorkas.

Other groups working with the ACLU on the lawsuit are the Texas Civil Rights Project, RAICES, the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Oxfam, the ACLU of Texas and the ACLU of the District of Columbia.

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.