The Biden administration moved late Friday to cancel the pandemic border shutdown as it pertains to illegal immigrant children who show up without parents, saying it had revisited the issue and decided children aren’t as much of a risk as other unauthorized border crossers.
The decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was prompted by a court ruling last week that found an earlier version of the policy was issued illegally.
CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said unaccompanied juveniles who jump the border are arrested by Homeland Security and quickly transferred to the Health and Human Services Department, and only released from government custody after quarantining and negative testing. That makes them different than the families and single adults the administration is catching and releasing at the border or soon thereafter.
“CDC thus finds that, at this time, there is appropriate infrastructure in place to protect the children, caregivers and local and destination communities from elevated risk of COVID-19 transmission,” Dr. Walensky wrote in a new policy update.
The Biden administration kept the rest of the pandemic border shutdown policy, known as Title 42, in place, however. Under that policy, about half of all illegal immigrants encountered at the border each month are returned back to Mexico or quickly shipped home.
The policy was implemented under the Trump administration, which saw nearly 100% of unauthorized crossers ousted.
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When President Biden took office Title 42 was one of the few Trump immigration-related policies he maintained. But he carved out an exception for the illegal immigrant children traveling without parents, saying it was a cruel way to treat children who’d made the perilous journey north.
Tens of thousands of children started streaming into the U.S., shattering all previous records.
The numbers have dipped somewhat, but are still high, with an average of 365 children a day entering this month.
Last week a federal judge ruled the Biden child carve-out policy was illegally issued. The judge had given the administration a seven-day grace period to comply with his ruling or take some other action, such as an appeal.
Facing the Friday deadline, the administration’s response was to issue the new ruling with a more detailed discussion of the reasons for a child carve-out.
“CDC addresses the court’s concerns and has determined, after considering current public health conditions and recent developments, that expulsion of unaccompanied non-citizen children is not warranted to protect the public health,” the agency said in a statement.
The Biden administration is under extreme pressure from its political base to end Title 42 altogether. Immigrant-rights advocates argue that some asylum seekers with real cases are being denied a chance to make claims of protection in the U.S.
Experts, though, say the Title 42 policy is all that’s keeping the already historically bad flood of illegal immigrants from turning into a catastrophic tsunami.
For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.