Joe Biden Continues Donald Trump's Title 42 Asylum Rejections Despite ACLU Lawsuit

The ACLU has failed to reach agreement with the federal government on its lawsuit over expulsion of asylum seekers under Title 42, a suit that was originally filed in January, as no agreement between the two sides has been reached. It has filed a court response that indicates its intention to continue the suit.

Title 42 calls for the removal of individuals entering the country from nations where a contagious disease was present, and was first implemented by the Trump administration in March of 2020. Despite criticism from human rights groups and politicians on the left, the Biden administration continues to uphold the policy.

Lee Gelernt, the ACLU's deputy director of its Immigrants' Rights Project and lead attorney on the case, told Newsweek the policy disproportionately affects the rights of Central American asylum seekers. He said it's used only against people seeking admission without documents.

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"The Trump administration throughout its four years was constantly looking for a way to stop asylum seekers from Central America," The ACLU told Newsweek. "We are extremely concerned that the Biden administration has kept the policy in place for families and adults." In this photo, a father and his daughter, part of the Central American migrant caravan, wait at a crossroads in the heat for rides as they head for the U.S. border on November 03, 2018 in ISLA, Mexico. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images

"The Trump administration throughout its four years was constantly looking for a way to stop asylum seekers from Central America," Gelernt told Newsweek. "We are extremely concerned that the Biden administration has kept the policy in place for families and adults."

The ACLU told Newsweek that it will continue to negotiate with the government in the case, filed as Huisha-Huisha V. Gaynor, until June 8, when the two parties will decide if negotiations should continue.

As a result of prior negotiations, the Biden administration now allows the ACLU to refer 35 families each day to enter the country as asylum seekers through humanitarian exception. Nonprofits throughout the country assess the situations of those they encounter at the border and then share their case with the ACLU, which may then refer the case to their federal government.

Alex Miller, managing attorney of the border action team at the Florence Immigrant & Refugee Rights Project, an Arizona-based NGO, leads an effort to refer asylum seekers that the group encounters at the U.S. port of entry in Nogales, Arizona for humanitarian exception.

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Jesus, 25, and his son Anthony, 5, from Honduras wait outside Gimnasio Kiki Romero, which has been converted into a makeshift migrant shelter, in Ciudad Juarez on April 6, 2021. Jesus and his son crossed the border in the Rio Grande Valley, were flown from Brownsville to El Paso, Texas and expelled to Mexico in Ciudad Juarez. PAUL RATJE/AFP via Getty Images

So far, the Florence Project has referred 75 families for humanitarian exception since March, and has had 100% of their applications accepted.

Miller told Newsweek that all the individuals they encounter are vulnerable, but her group prioritizes the most "extraordinarily empathetic circumstance," sending as many referrals as they can prepare in a given day.

As the ACLU moves forward with its Title 42 litigation and vaccination rates continue to rise, Gelernt remains optimistic that his team will make progress in pushing the administration to ease its restrictions.

Last week, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi called on the U.S. to lift the Title 42 ban. This statement comes as nearly 62% of American adults have received their first vaccine.

"It's highly unfortunate that the CDC has gone along with (Title 42) this long under the Biden administration," Gelernt told Newsweek. "Especially now that the president has called on the country to open up and the vaccine and testing are widely available."