Judge orders border officials to stop expelling migrant children due to virus

The Trump administration says expelling migrant children is necessary in order to contain the spread of COVID-19

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On Wednesday, a judge put their foot down by requiring border agents to stop expelling migrant children without them being able to seek humanitarian refuge.

Read More: Legal team says they can’t find parents of 545 migrant children separated at border

The judgment is in response to a pandemic-era policy used by President Donald Trump to restrict legal defenses in support of migrant children being held in immigration’s custody, per CBS News.

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(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images

The Trump administration claims these expulsions are necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It mentions a 19th-century law that says the U.S. is “to prohibit, in whole or in part, the introduction of persons” who could spread disease inside the U.S. 

Critics have called leaving children at the boarder unjust.

“This cruel and unlawful policy, like so many others from the Trump administration, was putting thousands of children in grave danger,” said Lee Gelernt, the head American Civil Liberties Union lawyer of the case, per CBS News. “Not surprisingly, all three federal judges who have looked at it have concluded it should be halted.”

Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia says children without parents must be taken into custody by border officials and taken care of under laws created by Congress while undergoing immigration proceedings.

Read More: Jeff Sessions ordered DOJ officials to ‘take away children’ at border: report

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This December 2019 photo shows Honduran asylum seeker, Christopher, 6, standing with his father on the international bridge from Mexico to the United States in the border town of Matamoros, Mexico. They were waiting to be taken by U.S. officials to an immigration court hearing in Brownsville, Texas. (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

Since March, officials have been sending back migrants at the boarder who lack the proper documentation to stay without allowing them to speak with an immigration judge or asylum officer. By the end of September the U.S.-Mexico border had conducted 200,000 summary expulsions, 9,000 of them were minors without adults present.

But Trump’s administration says this is necessary in order to contain the spread of the virus in the country. But despite the Justice Department’s argument, the judge says the laws Congress has set to protect migrant children stand.

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