Court revives government’s powers to expel illegal immigrants during pandemic

A federal appeals court issued an order Thursday preserving the government’s powers to expel illegal immigrants who jump the border during the pandemic.

A lower court judge has ruled the expulsions, known as Title 42 authority, illegal, but the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia put his ruling on hold pending more arguments.

The three-judge appeals panel set oral argument for January, signaling the government has at least three more months to use Title 42 to block at least some illegal immigrants in the current unprecedented border surge.

Title 42 is a finding by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the pandemic is so bad that allowing illegal immigrants in would be a serious health risk.

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan had ruled the expulsions went beyond what Title 42 envisioned. The Biden administration appealed his decision.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said this week that 20% of the migrants they’re seeing at the border are ill, and given the numbers they’re seeing of 7,000 people a day, he said having them in Border Patrol stations would be a recipe for disease spread.

Immigrant-rights advocates say Title 42, which was begun under President Trump but extended by the Biden administration, is based on the notion that immigrants are disease-ridden.

They have pleaded with the Biden team to cancel the pandemic order, saying it denies asylum-seekers the chance to make their case because they are expelled immediately.

“If the Biden administration really wants to treat asylum seekers humanely, it should end this lawless policy now and withdraw its appeal.

We will continue fighting to end this illegal policy,” said Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer leading the case challenging Title 42.

In the Trump era, more than 90% of border jumpers were expelled using Title 42 in some months.

Under the Biden team, that ratio has fallen to less than half of border jumpers. Mr. Mayorkas says he’s not getting as much cooperation from Mexico in receiving back the expelled migrants.

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