The Biden administration will keep in place the Trump-era policy of turning migrants away at the Mexican border without allowing them to claim asylum due to the pandemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced an extension of the policy in a statement on Monday, determining that “introduction of such non-citizens, regardless of their country of origin, migrating through Canada and Mexico into the US creates a serious danger of the introduction of Covid-19 into the US”.
The US is currently experiencing a surge in new Covid-19 cases due to the more infectious Delta variant, causing many state and local governments as well as businesses to reimpose pandemic mitigation measures.
A group of lawmakers last month urged President Joe Biden to keep the Trump-era policy, called Title 42, in place, The Hill reports.
Despite overturning many of former president Donald Trump’s immigration policies, the Biden administration has defended the continued use of Title 42, which it has used to expel roughly 100,000 migrants every month.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Monday announced it would be moving forward with a lawsuit to force the administration to lift the policy.
“It is now clear that there is no immediate plan to do that,” ACLU lawyer Lee Gelernt said in a statement. “The administration made repeated public statements that it just needed some time to build back the asylum system the Trump administration depleted. We gave them seven months. Time is up.”
In a court filing responding to the lawsuit, the administration argued that lifting Title 42 would overwhelm the country’s immigration system and lead to overcrowded and unsafe conditions at border facilities.
The Biden administration’s continuation of Trump-era border policies, even if short-lived, has left thousands of asylum-seekers stranded in dangerous Mexican towns or facing swift expulsion to the countries they fled from.
Many were hopeful that their fortunes would change under the new administration but it’s unclear when or even if that may happen.
CBS News reports the plight of Angela, 24, and her family who have been stranded in Reynosa, a Mexican border town and hotspot for turf wars between warring drug cartels for nearly a year.
The Honduran mother crossed the US border with her partner and toddler in March and had a baby girl at a hospital in McAllen, Texas, while in Border Patrol custody, according to medical records.
After her daughter’s birth, Angela and her family were not allowed to stay in the US. Instead, they were expelled to Mexico without a court hearing.
Thousands of asylum-seekers waiting at America’s doorstep face similar predicaments as a result of a network of policies the Trump administration implemented to deter would-be migrants, whom it accused of gaming the country’s humanitarian programmes to gain easy entry into the US.
At the time, Biden decried these measures as “inhumane” and vowed to end them, accusing the Trump administration of forcing asylum applicants to live “in squalor”.
However, after winning the election, his advisers said unwinding the many policies would take time, largely, they claimed, due to the pandemic.
Gelernt told CBS News “The policy is flatly illegal and was enacted by the Trump administration as a pretext to shut the border, despite the view of medical experts that it was unnecessary from a public health standpoint.”
Angela, the young mother who was expelled with her family last spring, said they left Honduras after gang members tried to recruit her partner.
After being expelled from the US, life in Mexico with a four-year-old and infant has not been easy.
“It’s very dangerous here. You can’t even go outside,” Angela said in Spanish, citing cartel violence and kidnappings.