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US Can’t Deport Families Under Title 42 If They Could Face Harm, Court Rules

The ruling still allows single adults to be deported under Title 42.

Central American migrants expelled from the U.S. under Title 42 are seen at the National Migration Institute station in Ciudad Juarez, State of Chihuahua, Mexico, on April 5, 2021.

On Friday, a federal court decided that the U.S. can no longer use a restrictive immigration rule first invoked by the Trump administration to expel families to countries where they may face persecution or torture, but still allowed the rule to stay in place.

The ruling, handed down from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, said that the supposed public health rule known as Title 42 “cannot expel [families] to places where they will be persecuted or tortured.” Families will now be given a chance to express their fears of being expelled to immigration officials, which most families couldn’t do before.

However, the ruling still allows the Biden administration to expel families that judges or asylum officers determine aren’t facing persecution or torture, as well as single adults, who have made up the majority of deportations under Title 42.

The Biden administration’s use of Title 42, which allows officials to deport asylum seekers under the guise of public health, have come under scrutiny from immigration advocates and even people within the administration. They say that President Joe Biden’s use of the policy, especially its use in deporting thousands of Haitian asylum seekers, is inhumane and potentially illegal.

Despite outcry from progressives in his party, Biden has decided to keep the policy in place and has deported more people under the rule than Donald Trump did. Despite the fact that Haiti is already designated by the Department of Homeland Security as a country that is unsafe for people to return to, the Biden administration has sent asylum seekers back to the country en masse.

Friday’s ruling upheld the restrictive policy, but questioned whether or not it should be revoked because it “looks in certain respects like a relic from an era with no vaccines, scarce testing, few therapeutics and little certainty.”

Progressive and Democratic lawmakers have been urging Biden to end the use of Title 42. On Saturday, Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-Massachusetts) wrote, “This is an important victory in our fight to #EndTitle42, which has been weaponized against Black & brown migrants for far too long. It’s time for [Biden] to center the dignity and humanity of *all* migrants and that starts with ending Title 42.”

After Friday’s ruling, Biden administration officials gathered to discuss stopping the use of Title 42 altogether, according to the New York Times. It’s unclear if the administration has made a decision on the matter.

In February, a group of over 100 House representatives sent a letter to Biden urging him to end the use of Title 42 and other inhumane immigration policies that are often disproportionately used against Black migrants.

“Our country has a long history of inhumane treatment of Black migrants, which is particularly evident in the historic mistreatment of Haitians,” the lawmakers wrote. “It is time to undo the United States’ draconian immigration policies, particularly policies introduced under the Trump Administration, such as the use of Title 42, that circumvent our humanitarian obligations.”

Indeed, while Haitian asylum seekers have been deported despite the fact that Haitians in the U.S. can qualify for Temporary Protected Status (TPS) because of political and infrastructural instability in their home country, the Biden administration recently halted deportations of undocumented immigrants from Ukraine. Immigration advocates have pointed out that this is a clear double standard as Haitians face cruelty from border agents and the government.