A federal court ruled Friday that the U.S. can continue to expel certain migrants who cross the U.S.-Mexico border unless they would be returned to a country where they might face persecution or torture.
The ruling by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit allows a rule, known as Title 42, implemented during the Trump administration at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, to largely stay in effect.
The case was brought by a group of migrants who were represented by the American Civil Liberties Union.
The court ruled the migrants, who entered the United States without authorization, “have no right to be in the United States” and that the government “can immediately expel them.”
However, they cannot be expelled to a country where their “life or freedom would be threatened” – or because of “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion” – or to a country where they will likely be tortured.
Kept as health measure
Amid continuing chaos along the U.S.-Mexico border, the Biden administration has opted to retain the policy, which was originally put forth as a public health measure.
Migrants are fast-tracked for removal if U.S. immigration officers conclude they do not have a valid asylum claim, a determination made without migrants appearing before an immigration judge. Unaccompanied children who cross the border into the United States are exempted from the policy.
The U.S Department of Justice has not commented on the ruling.
Enforcement of Title 42 appears to be uneven in some cases.
According to Reuters, many crossing the border on foot are expelled or quickly turned back, but those in vehicles are more often able to make their claim of asylum.
A U.S. Border Patrol officer told Reuters that some migrants buy cheap cars in Mexico to boost their odds of making it across.
“It’s a way to jump the line,” said U.S. Border Patrol Chief Rodney Scott.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported 153,941 migrant encounters on the U.S. southern border in January, which was almost double the number reported in January 2021 and four times the total in January of 2020.
Some information in this report came from Reuters.