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WASHINGTON – The American Civil Liberties Union and other immigrant rights organizations have resumed a lawsuit that was filed under the Trump administration challenging a policy that allows migrants to be expelled to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in holding facilities.
The lawsuit was put on hold after President Joe Biden was sworn into office. The Biden administration and the groups over the past several months have been in negotiations over the use of Title 42, but have “reached an impasse,” according to the lawsuit filed with the U.S. District Court in D.C.
“We gave the Biden administration more than enough time to fix any problems left behind by the Trump administration, but it has left us no choice but to return to court,” ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt, who is the lead lawyer on the case, said in a statement. “Families’ lives are at stake.”
The American Civil Liberties Union, Texas Civil Rights Project, RAICES, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Oxfam, ACLU of Texas and ACLU of the District of Columbia filed the lawsuit to end Title 42.
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," Psaki said. "We have not given a timeline of when.. they will lift Title 42, but we will look for them to provide us that guidance."
Title 42 was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and the Biden administration has continued to implement the Trump-era policy. The policy allows Customs and Border Protection officials to expel undocumented migrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in holding facilities.
Immigrant activists have been critical of the Biden administration’s use of the policy. Children and some families are exempt from the policy. The Biden administration has defended use of the policy, and officials have frequently said that the border is closed and have asked migrants to not come.
There has been a dramatic increase of migrant children, families and adults coming to the U.S.-Mexico border this year. CBP encountered a yearly high of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border in June, with 188,829 migrants encountered.
The Biden Administration has turned away the majority of migrants coming to the border under Title 42. In addition, 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.
Reach Rebecca Morin at Twitter @RebeccaMorin_
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: ACLU resumes lawsuit against White House over Title 42 border policy