After promising more humane immigration system, Biden admin defends Stephen Miller policy in court

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CBS News reports that Justice Department attorneys “vigorously defended” the continuance of Title 42, “arguing the unprecedented policy is still needed to control the spread of the coronavirus.”

But asylum-seekers represent just a tiny fraction of the people who cross the southern border, and many others have been allowed to cross since the start of the pandemic, Mother Jones reports. American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) attorney Lee Gelernt noted how travelers have been able to cross the border via air without restriction throughout the pandemic. Travelers entering via land for purposes deemed essential have also been permitted to enter throughout the pandemic. The Biden administration has also recently eased restrictions for other visitors.

“He pointed out how many basketball arenas do not require proof of vaccination before allowing thousands to attend games; congregate settings that pose risks could include packed airports and flights, yet there are no restrictions on domestic travel.” Gelernt noted, “The CDC is saying, ‘Look, the whole country is open,’” the report continued. In Texas alone, the state’s Republican leadership is running a blatantly pro-pandemic agenda, issuing orders banning mask and vaccine mandates. But asylum-seekers!

The Biden administration has also insisted Title 42 must stay in place to keep border detention sites safer. But 20% of Border Patrol employees had defied the federal government’s vaccine mandate as of last November, “one of the highest refusal rates among the federal workforce,” The Washington Post reported at the time.

“The judges appeared skeptical at times about the basis of the order, particularly the premise that it guards against transmission in congregate settings, or specifically in the case of the US-Mexico border, border facilities,” CNN reported. “Judge Sri Srinivasan, for example, noted that unaccompanied minors, who are exempt from the order, are not subject to it and pass through those same facilities.”

Srinivasan is a Barack Obama appointee. The other two judges were appointed by his successor. CBS News reported that one of those two judges, Robert Wilkins, also raised questions about Title 42. The policy was first implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under internal pressure from Miller and Mike Pence nearly two years ago, in March 2020. “The statute refers to introducing a disease but COVID is unfortunately quite introduced into the United States by this point in time,” Wilkins said.

A former CDC official has since admitted to Congress that the previous administration’s public health reasoning was bull. A senior State Department official also authored a memo, calling the policy illegal, before resigning last fall. Countless medical experts and advocates have been insisting the same. But the Biden administration has disgracefully continued the policy.

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“One year after taking office, the Biden administration continues to defend Trump’s blanket shutdown of asylum access in the United States under the facade of the pandemic,” said ACLU of Texas Policy Counsel on Border Rights, Shaw Drake. “Ensuring the summary expulsion of vulnerable families seeking safety at our border, this remains one of the most inhumane and unlawful Trump-era border policies.”

“When the Biden administration adopted this policy as its own, they broke promises to restore the country’s asylum system and further co-opted the pandemic to deny lawful access to asylum to those seeking protection in the United States,” Drake continued. “Their actions are shameful.” Karla Marisol Vargas, Senior Staff Attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, plainly said that “the rationale that Title 42 is necessary to preserve public health is a lie.”

The Biden administration is appealing a ruling levied against the policy last year“The court ruled the plaintiffs were likely to prevail in the case, finding the Title 42 expulsion policy to be in clear violation of U.S. law, and recognizing the grave harms suffered by families and children who have been subject to it,” plaintiffs said at the time.



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