WASHINGTON, Nov 15 (Reuters) – A U.S. judge ruled on Tuesday that a pandemic-era order used to deport hundreds of thousands of migrants to Mexico was illegal, a ruling that could have major implications for the US border management.
In a 49-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Emmet Sullivan said the policy was “arbitrary and capricious” and violated federal regulatory law.
The decision could complicate President Joe Biden’s border strategy. Last month, the administration announced it would begin sending Venezuelans arrested at the US-Mexico border under the deportation order back to Mexico to deter crossings, which have reached record levels.
The order, known as Title 42, was put in place during the administration of then-President Donald Trump in March 2020 at the start of the COVID pandemic. Biden continued to use the measure after taking office, deporting migrants an estimated 2 million times, although many were repeat smugglers.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued the order, but later under Biden said it was no longer needed for health reasons. However, a Louisiana-based federal judge ruled in May that the Biden administration cannot end it.
Sullivan, a Washington, DC appointee by former President Bill Clinton, wrote that the policy violated a federal law governing regulations known as the Administrative Procedure Act.
“It is unreasonable for the CDC to assume that it can ignore the consequences of any action it chooses to take in pursuit of its goals, particularly when those actions included the extraordinary decision to suspend [asylum laws],” he wrote.
Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, which represented the families, said the ruling would “literally save lives” as tens of thousands of asylum seekers had been returned to Mexico under the no-death policy. hearing.
The US Department of Justice and US Department of Homeland Security did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Reporting by Ted Hesson in Washington and Mica Rosenberg in New York; Editing by Jonathan Oatis and David Gregorio
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