"The Court is not convinced that the transmission of COVID-19 during border processing cannot be significantly mitigated." The Biden administration can't keep expelling migrant families under the banner of pandemic precaution, a federal court says.

On Thursday, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia struck down the administration's interpretation of a public health rule known as Title 42, which the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had declared as grounds for banning border crossings and immediately expelling anyone caught entering the country.

With "the wide availability of testing, vaccines, and other minimization measures, the Court is not convinced that the transmission of COVID-19 during border processing cannot be significantly mitigated," the new ruling says.

Title 42–based immediate expulsions—which the CDC said were a necessary public health measure during the COVID-19 pandemic—were started under former President Donald Trump and extended and ramped up under President Joe Biden. ("The Biden administration is on target to approach a historical fiscal-year record for apprehending migrants on the U.S./Mexico border," noted Reason's Brian Doherty yesterday. "We are likely to have seen 1.64 million such apprehensions by this month's end of fiscal 2021, even as opponents absurdly accuse the president of pursuing 'open borders' policies.")

The policy means no U.S. processing of anyone—including those seeking asylum here—found attempting to cross the border. Once caught, people are returned immediately to Mexico or their home countries.

But U.S. District Court Judge Emmet G. Sullivan ruled yesterday that Title 42 doesn't justify this policy and, beginning two weeks from the order, the administration will have to give migrant families an opportunity to seek asylum here.

The U.S. "can continue to expel single adults arriving at the U.S. southern border," notes Politico. "Unaccompanied children have been exempt from being expelled using Title 42."

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