Although President Joe Biden has taken hundreds of administrative actions to reverse his predecessor’s immigration policies during his first year in office, his administration is defending two Trump-era court orders in court: pandemic-related border restrictions and family separations.
In federal court, the Justice Department is actively fighting for border restrictions that have blocked most asylum seekers from entering the United States. In separate federal cases, the agency has argued that former President Donald Trump’s policy separating migrant families was lawful and even urged the courts to dismiss cases brought by migrant families who are seeking compensation for being separated by the former administration.
Biden Continues to Invoke Title 42
The Title 42 policy—a section of the Public Health Service Act—allows the federal government to prevent noncitizens from entering the U.S. in the interest of protecting public health. In March 2020, at the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Trump started to use the special legal authority to expel migrants arriving at the southern border, either sending them back to overcrowded and dangerous border cities in Mexico or to their home countries.
Within one year, the Biden administration has maintained that order to expel over one million migrants. The Justice Department said that Title 42 is backed by “scientific expertise’ and that lifting the policy would allow COVID-19 to initially spread in Border Patrol facilities among staff and detainees—since the facilities are not designed to isolate or quarantine migrants who test positive for the coronavirus—then eventually the public.
However, scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) opposed Title 42 and argued that there was no valid public health rationale for imposing it – before the policy was ordered by then-Vice President Mike Pence. Other public health experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, said that migrants can be processed at the border safely and that expelling them is not the solution to the outbreak.
Biden Argues Family Separation was Legal
While President Biden has promised to end the use of family separations and even created a task force to reunite families that have been affected by his predecessor’s policy, families who have been affected by it and seeking compensation are facing an uphill legal battle against the Justice Department.
In December 2021, Biden backed out of months-long settlement talks with separated families after the administration dismissed the idea of paying out up to $450,000 in compensation. That amount of money reflected the price of dealing with potentially lifelong health conditions and psychological trauma due to being separated and even physically and sexually abused.
Yet, the Justice Department said affected families are not entitled to such government payouts under the Federal Tort Claims Act, arguing that migrants who entered the U.S. without authorization cannot sue the federal government for any negligence or wrongdoing. The agency plans to take the case to trial, which can make determining a resolution quite time-consuming.
If you are dealing with an immigration matter in Phoenix, AZ, call call Kanu & Associates, P.C. at (602) 353-7795 or fill out our online contact form today to request aconsu ltation. We will not treat you like just another case number.