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US to Appeal Order Barring Expulsions  11/27 06:25

   

   HOUSTON (AP) -- The U.S. government on Wednesday appealed a judge's order 
barring the expulsions of immigrant children who crossed the border alone, a 
policy enacted during the coronavirus pandemic to deny the children asylum 
protections.

   Judge Emmet Sullivan issued a preliminary injunction on Nov. 18 sought by 
advocates for immigrants that barred expulsions of unaccompanied children under 
public health laws.

   The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal Wednesday night to the U.S. 
Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. It also asked Sullivan 
to issue a stay of the injunction pending appeal, a request he previously 
denied.

   Since March, border agents have expelled 200,000 immigrant adults and 
children citing the pandemic and a need to prevent the spread of the virus, 
even though COVID-19 is spreading broadly through border communities and the 
country at large.

   Sullivan's order only covered children who cross the border without a parent 
and not adults or parents and children. At least 8,800 unaccompanied children 
have been expelled without having a chance to seek asylum protections or speak 
to a lawyer. Most people have been expelled within hours or days, though the 
Trump administration detained hundreds of children for weeks in hotels near the 
U.S.-Mexico border for days or weeks at a time until another judge barred that 
practice.

   President-elect Joe Biden has said he will reverse several of President 
Donald Trump's immigration programs when he takes office in January. Biden has 
not stated whether he will stop expulsions of immigrants.

   In its filing Wednesday night, the Justice Department cited the spread of 
the virus in border communities in Arizona and Texas. It warned that Sullivan's 
order "likely will have an irreversible impact on public health" by straining 
hospital capacity and forcing the government to move "potentially infected" 
children and teenagers through airports.

   The Associated Press reported on Oct. 3 that top officials at the Centers 
for Disease Control and Prevention resisted issuing an emergency declaration 
allowing immigrant expulsions because it lacked a public health basis, but that 
Vice President Mike Pence ordered the agency to move forward anyway.

   Immigration advocates who sought the injunction say the government has the 
ability to protect children and border agents simultaneously. They argue the 
Trump administration is using the pandemic as a pretext to crack down on 
immigrants.

   "There is no basis for allowing this cruel, unprecedented policy to take 
effect, given the harm that these young children would face if sent back and 
the readily available ways of safely housing the children," said Lee Gelernt, a 
lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union, in an email.

 
 
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