Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

A volunteer welcomes members of a group of 25 asylum-seekers allowed into the United States on February 25, 2021 in Brownsville, Texas. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

A volunteer welcomes members of a group of 25 asylum-seekers allowed into the United States on February 25, 2021 in Brownsville, Texas. (Photo: John Moore/Getty Images)

Judge Blocks Biden From Continuing 'Inhumane' Trump Policy to Deport Families

"This is not the end of the battle against this practice," said one rights group, "but it is a major step to ensure that the U.S. welcomes these asylum-seeking families—as we should."

Jessica Corbett

In a major win for asylum-seekers and human rights advocates, a federal judge on Thursday ordered President Joe Biden's administration to end a Trump-era policy of using Covid-19 pandemic to justify the swift deportation of migrant families.

"This court order reaffirms our pride in being a nation of refuge, as Congress intended."
—Cecillia Wang, ACLU

The Trump administration first invoked Title 42, a section of the Public Health Safety Act, early last year. Biden has faced global criticism for continuing the policy. After failed negotiations with the Biden administration, advocacy groups that had initially sued while former President Donald Trump was in office resumed their legal challenge to the expulsions last month.

"President Biden should have ended this cruel and lawless policy long ago, and the court was correct to reject it today," Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project, said in a statement welcoming U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan's Thursday ruling.

In a 58-page ruling, Sullivan agreed that the Title 42 expulsions weren't supported by federal law. The judge's order, widely cheered by rights groups, is set to take effect in 14 days.

Politico noted Thursday that the Biden administration made its position on the policy clear last month:

[The] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued an updated order that maintained there is still a public health justification for the Biden administration to continue kicking out migrants. The order can remain in effect indefinitely.

Sullivan's order applies only to families, meaning the Biden administration can continue to expel single adults arriving at the U.S. southern border. Unaccompanied children have been exempt from being expelled using Title 42.

The Biden administration has not only resisted pressure to end Title 42 expulsions—and deported hundreds of thousands of people—but also announced in July that families who couldn't be expelled under the policy would be "placed in expedited removal proceedings," which rights activists slammed as "vile."

Cecillia Wang, deputy legal director at the ACLU, pointed out Thursday that "there are so many ways the government can safely permit these families to go through the asylum process, in ways that ensure everyone's health is protected. Quarantine, testing, and vaccination."

Wang also took to Twitter to explain portions of Sullivan's decision, which she called "a beacon of hope" that "reaffirms our pride in being a nation of refuge, as Congress intended."

The Texas-based group RAICES—which was part of the coalition challenging the "inhumane and unnecessary" Title 42 policy—similarly applauded the judge's decision.

"This is not the end of the battle against this practice," RAICES said, "but it is a major step to ensure that the U.S. welcomes these asylum-seeking families—as we should."

Sawyer Hackett, executive director of People First Future, a political action committee launched by former Democratic presidential candidate Julián Castro, also celebrated the news.

"We haven't had a real asylum system for 18 months," Hackett said. "This is a huge win for human rights."

Refugees International U.S. senior advocate Yael Schacher shared some of the recent consequences of the Biden administration sending asylum-seekers to Mexico and other countries:

On a visit to Reynosa last month, I met a pregnant Honduran woman who was expelled under Title 42 and separated from her husband and son in Houston. Another Honduran woman I met had been raped since being expelled. Others in Reynosa, including a man I met from Tigray, have been waiting for months for a chance to seek asylum at the port of entry.

Building back better means creating a system whereby all asylum-seekers—children, families, and adults—are given a chance to seek protection rather than be returned to danger.

Schacher said Biden should accept Thursday's ruling, issue a new termination memo for the Remain in Mexico policy, reopen ports to asylum-seekers, and "implement a fair system different from that of the previous administration."

This post has been updated with comment from Refugees International.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·


'Arbitrary, Racist, and Unfair': Judge Blocks Biden From Ending Title 42

"Only the coyotes profiteering off of people seeking protection have reason to celebrate this ill-reasoned ruling," said one migrant rights advocate.

Brett Wilkins ·


'This Is a War' for Democratic Party's Future, Says Sanders of AIPAC's Super PAC

"They are doing everything they can to destroy the progressive movement in this country," said the senator.

Julia Conley ·


Ginni Thomas Pressed Arizona Lawmakers to Reverse Biden's 2020 Win: Report

"Clarence Thomas' continued service on the Supreme Court is a scandalous and appalling breach of judicial ethics," said one observer. "He is implementing the exact same theories that his wife used to try to steal the 2020 election for Trump."

Brett Wilkins ·


Millions More Kids Going Hungry Since GOP, Manchin Killed Expanded Child Tax Credit

"Even brief disruptions in access to food can have lasting consequences," wrote the authors of a new analysis of worsening hunger among U.S. families.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo