Judge Nullifies Key Trump Policy As Presidency Sputters To An End

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Donald Trump will forever be remembered as the president who took immigrant babies from their mothers’ arms and locked them in cages. The COVID-19 pandemic made it easier for him to commit his cruelty against black and brown children; now, he simply has them deported before they have a chance to make a plea before an immigration court.

 

On Wednesday, Judge Emmet Sullivan heard the case of “a 15-year-old minor from Guatemala who entered the United States as an unaccompanied minor in August 2020” and whose father is currently residing in the U.S. with citizenship proceedings in progress. The boy told the judge that he had ample opportunity to quarantine and socially distance even at a local youth shelter, where residence is far below capacity, but that he and other minors who had come to the U.S. unaccompanied were denied the right to file for asylum.

In the judge’s ruling, he spelled out the situation in which the boy found himself.

‘At the time he filed his motion for preliminary injunction, Plaintiff alleged that the DHS had “already expelled at least 2,000 unaccompanied children pursuant to the CDC Order[s],” Pl.’s Prelim. Inj. Mem., ECF No. 15-1 at 10; but Plaintiff now alleges that the number of expelled unaccompanied children had “exceeded 13,000 by the end of October.” Pl.’s Notice of November 17, 2020, ECF No. 78.’

Prior to the COVID pandemic, there were procedures in place for processing unaccompanied minors’ asylum cases in order to protect them from the harm they might face if returned to their home countries. Those procedures have been violated repeatedly under the Trump administration.

‘Unaccompanied children from countries that share borders with the United States were initially screened to determine that the unaccompanied child: (1) was not a victim of trafficking; (2) did not have “a credible fear of persecution”; and (3) was “able to make an independent decision” about their admission into the United States. Id. § 1232(a)(2)(A)…These unaccompanied children also had access to “counsel to represent them in legalproceedings or matters and protect them from mistreatment, exploitation, and trafficking,” id. § 1232(c)(5); and some were provided “independent child advocates . . . to effectively advocate for the[ir] best interest.” Id. § 1232(c)(6).’

‘In addition, all unaccompanied children retained their rights under the INA to (1) apply for asylum, id. § 1158(a)(1); contest their removal to a country where their “life or freedom would be threatened . . . because of [their] race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion,” id. § 1231(b)(3) (“withholding of removal”); or, pursuant to FARRA, (3) make a case that “he or she would be tortured if removed to the proposed country of removal.” Id. § 1231.’

Judge Sullivan ruled to allow the boy to stay, thereby setting a legal precedent that will no longer allow the Trump administration the right to deport unaccompanied minors without giving them their day in court. While quarantining measures will need to be observed as they are for all travelers coming in from foreign countries, they cannot be sent back into danger without being heard.

‘Having addressed the Government’s sole objection to this recommendation, and finding no clear error in this portion of the R. & R., the Court ADOPTSMagistrate Judge Harvey’s recommendation, and PROVISIONALLY GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion for class certification.’