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Two Federal Courts Hand Down Immigration Rulings For, Against Biden Admin Within Hours

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A pair of federal courts handed down immigration-related rulings on Friday with a few hours of each other with one favoring the Biden administration and the other against it, though neither ruling was a total victory for one side or the other.

In the first case, a federal appeals court partially upheld a ruling by a lower court that said the administration can continue using Title 42 for immediate deportation due to COVID-19-related health concerns. However, the court further stated that said illegal immigrants cannot be sent back “to places where they will be persecuted or tortured.”

In the second case, a federal judge in Texas ruled that the Biden White House cannot exempt migrant children from the same policy. So as deportations under Title 42 continue, migrant children who crossed into or were brought into the U.S. illegally are not exempt from being sent home.

The Miami Herald notes regarding the first ruling:

Under U.S. law, the government “cannot expel those aliens to places where they will be persecuted or tortured,” the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit wrote in its 32-page ruling.

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“Nor does it give them a path to asylum,” the ruling continued. “Nor does it stop the executive from detaining them. Nor does it curb the executive’s power to expel them to a country where they will not be persecuted or tortured.”

Randy McGrorty, a veteran immigration lawyer and executive director of Miami-based Catholic Legal Services, told the paper that the ruling may then mandate that illegal immigrants be screened for potential threats to their life or liberty.

“Providing the legal safeguard of screening individuals with legitimate fear of persecution or torture claims is a step forward towards complying with international law, treaty obligations, and basic human decency,” he told the Herald.

CBS News reported on the second ruling:

A federal judge in Texas on Friday ruled against the Biden administration’s decision to exempt unaccompanied children from a Trump-era order that U.S. border agents have used to rapidly expel hundreds of thousands of migrants during the coronavirus pandemic.

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Granting a request made by Republican officials in Texas, District Court Judge Mark Pittman barred the Biden administration from exempting migrant children traveling without their parents from the pandemic-era expulsion policy, which is known as Title 42, a section of the U.S. public health code.

Friday’s ruling by Pittman, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump in 2019, is the latest judicial victory for Texas’ Republican government, which has filed numerous lawsuits since President Biden’s inauguration to hinder his administration’s immigration and border policies.

“Texas has already blocked key Biden administration immigration policies, including a proposed 100-day moratorium on deportations last January, and convinced a federal judge last summer to require U.S. border authorities to revive a Trump-era program that requires migrants to await their asylum hearings in Mexico,” CBS News added.

In his Friday ruling, Pittman cited the Biden admin for failing to properly justify Centers for Disease Control and Prevention orders codifying the Title 42 exemption for unaccompanied minors last summer. He called them “arbitrary and capricious” and thus, in violation of existing federal administration laws.

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The judge also agreed with the state of Texas’ argument that migrant children not sent back to their home countries could wind up spreading the coronavirus.

“Here, the President has (arbitrarily) excepted COVID-19 positive unaccompanied alien children from Title 42 procedures—which were purposed with preventing the spread of COVID-19,” he noted in his 37-page order.

He went on to note that Texas taxpayers have been financially harmed because they have been on the hook paying for health care, education, and other services for migrant children relocated there.

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