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For Immediate Release

Press Release

Immigrants’ Rights Organizations Respond to Federal Court Victory Blocking the Government From Expelling Families to Danger Under Title 42

WASHINGTON -

A federal appeals court today issued a ruling that will prohibit the government from misusing public health authorities (Title 42) to summarily expel families seeking asylum who may face persecution or torture once expelled. The injunction will end the use of Title 42 for families fleeing danger, as currently employed.

For procedural reasons, the ruling will not take direct effect today, but the organizations are calling on the government to implement it immediately, in light of the court’s finding that serious harms have resulted from these unlawful expulsions. The groups also urge the government to bring a complete end to the Title 42 Order for all people fleeing danger, which they argue was never necessary as a matter of public health.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Oxfam America, RAICES, Texas Civil Rights Project, the ACLU of Texas, and the ACLU of the District of Columbia first sued the Trump administration over Title 42 expulsions of refugee families in 2020. After hitting an impasse in negotiations with the Biden administration, the groups went back to court in July 2021 to seek an immediate termination of this policy.

The following comments are from:

Lee Gelernt, attorney who argued the appeal and deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project:

“This is an enormous victory. We have argued from the beginning that the Title 42 policy is illegal and inhumane, and every court to address the issue has agreed. The court’s ruling leaves no doubt that this brutal policy has resulted in serious harm to families seeking asylum and must be terminated.”

Diana Kearney, senior legal advisor at Oxfam America:

”Thousands of families at the border can breathe a momentary sigh of relief today. This decision by the court protects refugee families from torture and persecution, and is a crucial step toward finally ending a shameful, baseless policy that inflicts undue harm opeople seeking protection. We look forward to working with our allies to hold the Biden administration accountable to implement this decision.”

Neela Chakravartula, managing attorney at the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS):

“Today’s ruling affirms what we know to be true: The right to seek protection is nonnegotiable, and the government cannot use a sham public health order as cover to expel refugees to danger. It is shameful that the Biden administration has fought so hard to defend the Title 42 policy, and they should reverse course immediately. Although today's ruling is technically limited to families, the Court's reasoning makes clear that the government cannot return anyone to a country where they will face persecution or torture. It's time to end Title 42 and finally restart asylum processing at the southern border."

Karla Marisol Vargas, senior attorney at the Texas Civil Rights Project:

“Today’s unanimous decision by the DC Court of Appeals orders the Biden administration to stop using Title 42 against families fleeing danger. It orders the Biden administration to stop making these individuals ‘walk the plank’ by sending them to countries where they will be persecuted or tortured. The decision is one small step towards unraveling this racist, harmful policy, and we will continue our fight for justice until individuals seeking safety are welcomed with dignity.”

Tami Goodlette, director of litigation at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES):

“Today's decision is a win for immigrants and confirms what we have been fighting for: that the expulsion of immigrants under Title 42 is inhumane, immoral, and illegal and it must end. We are very proud of our brave client families who shared their stories and stood up against this racist and deadly policy. We celebrate their courage today. And President Biden, we ask you to think of these families as you make your choice to either keep your promises to protect immigrants by ending Title 42 and the death and terrifying conditions it creates, or turn your back once again by appealing the case to a SCOTUS led by far-right extremists.”

Shaw Drake, staff attorney and policy counsel, ACLU of Texas:

“It is past time for the Biden administration to stop expelling people to danger. Today the courts again agreed. President Biden must stop harming vulnerable families by returning them to potential violence. The administration must uphold its promise to restore humanity to our immigration system. Step one is to end Title 42 expulsions completely.”

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Oxfam is a global organization working to end the injustice of poverty. We help people build better futures for themselves, hold the powerful accountable, and save lives in disasters.

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