Biden Administration Indicates Key Change Coming to Last of Trump's Major Border Rules

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will announce an order this week revising a public health order that bars people from seeking asylum at the U.S. border, Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Stoltz said Tuesday.

The expected order will pertain to the way migrant children are treated and may signal a key change in the last major asylum restriction enacted during the Trump administration, the Associated Press reported.

Stoltz spoke about the order during a court hearing in Fort Worth, Texas. He said the CDC will issue "a new order on the subject of the children," modifying a policy from the Biden administration that allows children who cross the border alone to seek asylum, an exception to the current ban.

Stoltz didn't offer any more information or clarification on what changes the order would entail. He said the order would make moot certain arguments from Texas but did not elaborate, the AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Asylum Seekers
A Justice Department attorney says the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will issue an order this week about treatment of children under a public health order that has prevented migrants from seeking asylum at U.S. borders. Above, a Border Patrol agent watches as a group of migrants walk across the Rio Grande on their way to turning themselves in upon crossing the border in Del Rio, Texas, on June 15. Eric Gay/AP Photo

Stoltz's comment that the order will apply to children suggests that the Biden administration is considering a gradual lifting of the asylum ban.

Higher COVID-19 vaccination rates have brought increasing pressure on the Biden administration to lift the public health order that was always intended as a temporary measure during the pandemic. While the administration has exempted unaccompanied children, some families and nearly all adults traveling alone are expelled from the United States—often to Mexico within two hours—without a chance to seek asylum.

Lifting the ban could encourage more people to come to the border to seek asylum at a time when the U.S. is under mounting strain. The U.N. refugee agency reported last month that the U.S. was once again the top destination for asylum-seekers in 2020, with about 250,000 new claims filed, more than twice as high as second-place Germany.

Texas, which has the busiest corridor for illegal border crossings, was seeking a court order forcing the federal government to cease what state Deputy Attorney General Aaron Reitz called "de facto non-enforcement" of the asylum ban. Reitz argued that the Biden administration's posture "threatens the health and safety of all Texans."

U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, a Donald Trump appointee, questioned Stoltz about the timing of the new order and asked that the government inform him as soon as it is issued. Pittman did not rule on the request for an injunction but said he will put out a decision "as quickly as I can."

Migrant Family
A migrant family from Venezuela heads to a Border Patrol transport vehicle after they and other migrants crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and turned themselves in Del Rio, Texas, on June 16. Eric Gay/AP Photo