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CDC extends policy that allows migrants to be expelled over COVID concerns

Migrants who crossed illegally into the U.S. wait to board a bus to be processed by U.S. Customs and Border Protection on June 2, 2021, in La Joya, Texas. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

The Biden administration extended a Trump-era policy Monday that allows migrants to be expelled to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in holding facilities.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement that Title 42 “shall remain in effect until the CDC Director determines that the danger of further introduction of COVID-19 into the United States from covered noncitizens has ceased to be a serious danger to the public health, and the Order is no longer necessary to protect the public health.”

Title 42 allows Customs and Border Protection officials to expel undocumented migrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in holding facilities. However, children and some families are exempt from the policy.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that “Title 42 is not an immigration authority, but a public health authority, and its continued use is dictated by CDC and governed by the CDC’s analysis of public health factors.”

The policy was first issued last year by the CDC under the Trump administration. Biden has received backlash by immigrant activists and some lawmakers for keeping the policy in place.

Earlier Monday, the American Civil Liberties Union and other immigrant rights organizations resumed a lawsuit challenging Title 42. The lawsuit came after months of negotiations to end the policy “reached an impasse,” according to the lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court in D.C.

Hours before the CDC’s announcement, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that President Joe Biden views Title 42 as a public health measure.

“The CDC is going to continue to provide guidance on how long it needs to be in place,” she said at a press briefing. “We have not given a timeline of when… they will lift Title 42, but we will look for them to provide us that guidance.”

As record levels of migrant children, families and adults continue to come to the U.S.-Mexico border, the Biden Administration has used Title 42 to turn away the majority of migrants. In June, CBP encountered a yearly high of migrants at 188,829.

Although some families cannot be expelled under Title 42, the Department of Homeland Security last week reinstated a policy that allows immigration authorities to remove migrant families without a hearing. The families who have gone through the expedited removal process could not be expelled under Title 42, but “do not have a legal basis to stay in the United States.” The first flights deporting those certain families began Friday.

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(c) 2021 USA Today

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