San Francisco, CA (September 16, 2021) – Today a federal court blocked the government from expelling families seeking safety under Title 42, granting a preliminary injunction in Huisha-Huisha v. Mayorkas, a class action lawsuit brought by the Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS), American Civil Liberties Union, Oxfam America, RAICES, and Texas Civil Rights Project. The court ruled the plaintiffs were likely to prevail in the case, finding the Title 42 expulsion policy to be in clear violation of U.S. law and recognizing the grave harms suffered by families and children who have been subject to it. The preliminary injunction temporarily halting the policy will take effect in 14 days.
“The court got it right today,” said Neela Chakravartula, Managing Attorney at CGRS. “The Title 42 policy is as illegal as it is dangerous. The Biden administration’s decision to continue expulsions has fueled violence and chaos at the border and endangered thousands of vulnerable families escaping persecution. It is long past time for this inhumanity to end.”
Devised by the Trump administration in 2020, under the Title 42 policy people arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border are denied the opportunity to seek asylum protection and are instead summarily expelled to Mexico, or to the very countries they have fled. Asylum seekers expelled under Title 42 have been exposed to horrific violence. Human rights investigators documented over 6,300 kidnappings, rapes, and other violent assaults against people returned to Mexico just in the first seven months of the Biden administration. The Title 42 policy has also fueled family separation, forcing many parents to make the impossible choice between sending their children to the border alone, or remaining together in highly dangerous conditions.
Though both the Trump and Biden administrations have cited the COVID-19 pandemic as justification for Title 42, the policy was forced into effect over objections from top doctors within the CDC itself. From day one, experts have maintained that there is no valid public health rationale for the cruelty of Title 42, which has in fact exacerbated the transmission of COVID-19. The court rightly sided with the experts today, finding no evidence that welcoming families seeking asylum would pose a public health risk and noting the ample COVID-19 mitigation measures at the government’s disposal, including highly effective vaccines and testing.