Trump-appointed judge says US must continue to expel migrants under public health law

Judge Robert Summerhays’ ruling blocks the Centers for Disease Control from reversing a Trump-era policy which allows border patrol agents to expel asylum seekers without considering their claims

Andrew Feinberg
Washington, DC
Friday 20 May 2022 22:57
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A Louisiana federal judge has issued a ruling prohibiting the Biden Administration from reversing a Trump-era policy which allowed border patrol agents to turn away asylum seekers along the US-Mexico border without considering their claims as required under US treaty obligations.

Judge Robert Summerhays on Friday granted a request by 24 Republican-led states to block the Centers for Disease Control from ending the use of a public health authority, known as Title 42 for its section of the US Code, enacted under former president Donald Trump at the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Under Title 42, the CDC can block the entry of migrants into the US on public health grounds. The Biden Administration was set to let the CDC’s use of Title 42 expire on Monday, but Judge Summerhays’ ruling forces immigration officials to continue to act under the Trump-era order.

Mr Trump’s March 2020 order to use Title 42 to largely close the US-Mexico border to asylum seekers was framed at the time as a way to keep Covid-19 from entering the United States, though many public health experts say the policy had little effect on the spread of the coronavirus in the US.

But advisers to Mr Trump, including Stephen Miller — the former president’s senior policy adviser — reportedly pushed him to order the CDC to employ Title 42 nonetheless because it would allow the Trump administration to severely restrict the entry of non-white asylum seekers at ports of entry along the US-Mexico border.

Although the US is a party to international treaties guaranteeing the right to seek asylum, Mr Trump and his allies frequently claim most people who enter the US seeking asylum along the southern border do so fraudulently and characterise them as “illegal immigrants” because many request asylum by seeking out border agents between normal ports of entry.

The ruling is the latest in a string of victories by litigants — often GOP attorneys general — who’ve chosen to file lawsuits in district courts with a high number of judges put on the bench by Mr Trump, with the aim of kneecapping the Biden administration’s ability to enact its’ own immigration policies.

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Independent.

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