John Burnett, NPR, November 18, 2020
A federal judge on Wednesday ordered the Trump administration to stop deporting minor immigrants on the grounds that they are a coronavirus threat. The government has already expelled nearly 9,000 children who crossed the border alone, seeking protection, citing a public health order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Since March, immigration agents have been ejecting nearly everyone — children and adults — who shows up at the U.S. border asking for asylum. The government had insisted that it had to turn youngsters back to prevent the possible infection of border agents, youth shelter workers and other immigrants in custody.
But federal Judge Emmet Sullivan issued a preliminary injunction in Washington, telling immigration agents to stop the rapid expulsions of unaccompanied children. U.S. Customs and Border Protection had been housing the children temporarily in border hotels before they could be deported, but another federal judge’s order told them to stop that practice.
Immigrant advocates reacted with relief to Wednesday’s order.
The Trump administration’s border expulsion policy rested on a rarely used public health law, known as Title 42. Sullivan ruled that the 1944 statute allows the government to block the entrance of noncitizens who carry diseases, but it does not allow expulsions.
The Justice Department had argued that the courts were impinging on the federal government’s power to protect the American public from COVID-19.