or other sponsors.Since the CDC took effect in late March, the Office of Refugee Resettlement has received few referrals of unaccompanied minors from border officials, admitting just 39 new children in May, according to government data obtained by CBS News. The Trump administration has portrayed the CDC order as an emergency policy designed to block the entry of migrants who could spread the coronavirus inside holding facilities and strain health care institutions.While the lawsuits filed so far against the expulsions policy seek relief for two migrant children, advocates hope they will be successful in arguing that the CDC order is illegal, especially because of the way it is being used to summarily deport unaccompanied minors. District Court in Washington, a conservative who was named to the bench by President Trump, blocked the deportation of the 16-year-old Honduran boy at the center of one of first legal challenges against the border expulsions. Federal judge skeptical of Trump order used to expel migrants at border
By Camilo Montoya-Galvez
June 24, 2020 / 4:11 PM
/ CBS News
A federal judge raised concerns on Tuesday about the administration’s policy of quickly expelling migrants at the border during the coronavirus pandemic, ordering border officials to halt the removal of an unaccompanied teenage boy from Honduras. Earlier this month, the ACLU and the Texas Civil Rights Project filed another lawsuit on behalf of 13-year-old girl from El Salvador who was expelled from the southern border in April and denied the opportunity to request asylum alongside her mother, who lives in New York.Citing the CDC order, now in place indefinitely, border officials carried out nearly 43,000 expulsions in May, April and the last 11 days of March. Among those expelled are hundreds of unaccompanied migrant children — a population that Congress exempted from speedy deportations through an anti-trafficking law in 2008.
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Under that same law, border officials must generally transfer most unaccompanied minors to the Office of Refugee Resettlement within three days of encountering them. The administration has justified the expulsions under an emergency order issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).During a hearing Tuesday, Nichols said the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups representing the migrant child were likely to succeed in arguing that public health law does not authorize expulsions, according to Lee Gelernt, the top ACLU attorney in the case. The agency has a network of shelters and other housing facilities where migrant children stay before being released to family members in the U.S. Even if the CDC can delegate an expulsion authority to border officials, Nichols said he did not believe those powers override the legal safeguards Congress created for unaccompanied children, Gelernt added.
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“This a critically important ruling because it went to the heart of the administration’s claim that it do can end-run around the immigration laws and simply expel people, including children, without any process,” Gelernt told CBS News.Nichols ordered the government to keep the 16-year-old boy in the U.S. while he crafts a ruling on the merits of the case. For the second time this month, Judge Carl Nichols of the U.S. Advocates are asking the district court in Washington to order the government to allow the Honduran teen to reunite with his father, who lives in Texas and has a pending asylum case.
First published on June 24, 2020 / 4:11 PM