A federal judge ruled on Thursday that the Biden administration may not expel migrants under a Title 42 public health order.
Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia issued the ruling, which will not take effect for another 14 days. Under the Title 42 policy implemented by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, border agents were authorized to immediately expel migrants back into Mexico in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus.
“In view of 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,” Sullivan wrote in his ruling. “Indeed, the government has successfully implemented mitigation measures with regard to processing unaccompanied minors in order to minimize risk of COVID-19 transmission.”
The Title 42 policy was initially instituted under the Trump administration at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and continued during the Biden administration. Homeland Security secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said in March that the administration would exempt young children from expulsion under the order.
Border patrol agents recorded 208,887 migrant encounters at the southern border in August. Agents apprehended 212,672 migrants in July, marking the first time in 21 years that the monthly number of migrant encounters rose above 200,000.
Roughly one million migrants have crossed the southern border illegally since January, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection data.