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Judge orders to stop the expulsion of children who cross the border

A federal judge ordered the government of Donald Trump to stop expelling children who cross the border alone from Mexico, curbing a measure that has led to the deportation of thousands of minors during the coronavirus pandemic.

Federal Judge Emmet Sullivan issued a preliminary appeal requested by groups that sued on behalf of the children the government wanted to expel before they could apply for asylum or other protections under federal law.

The government has expelled at least 8,000 unaccompanied children since March, when it issued an emergency declaration in which it cited the pandemic as a reason to prevent the majority of people crossing the border from staying.

Border agents forced many people to return immediately to Mexico and detained others in detention centers or hotels, sometimes for days or weeks. Meanwhile, government facilities designed to house children while they are looking for a foster family have thousands of unoccupied beds.

Sullivan’s order prevents the expulsion only of children who cross the border without being accompanied by a parent. The government has expelled more than 147,000 people since March, both adults and children with their parents.

“This measure sent thousands of children back into danger without a hearing,” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). “Like so many other measures of the Trump administration, it was gratuitously cruel and illegal.”

The Justice Department did not immediately say whether it would appeal. He has appealed the ruling of another federal judge that prohibits detaining children in hotels.

Joe Biden, who won the majority of the votes in the last election, has not said directly whether if confirmed he will continue to try to expel immigrants for public health reasons.

Biden is expected to repeal several Trump measures limiting asylum as part of broader immigration reform.

The Trump administration has argued in court that it must expel children who have recently crossed the border – with or without authorization – to prevent contagion from border agents and detained immigrants.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), issued the emergency declaration and the Justice Department cited the judgment of the “nation’s top public health official” in urging Sullivan not to stop the expulsion of the children.

The Associated Press reported Oct. 3 that senior CDC officials objected to the statement because it lacked a public health rationale, but Vice President Mike Pence ordered Redfield to issue it.