Given the world’s focus on the war in Ukraine, the discrimination against Black refugees there and the ramifications on the world’s economy, a court ruling on March 4th that gave some immigrants a victory went largely unnoticed.
On March 4, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that immigrants cannot be deported to torture or persecution. In the high-profile case, Huisha-Huisha, filed by Nancy Gimena Huisha-Huisha and The American Civil Liberties Union, Texas Civil Rights Project, RAICES, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Oxfam, ACLU of Texas, and ACLU of the District of Columbia against U.S. Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, last September, the court ruled that the federal government cannot deport people to countries where they would face violence, persecution and torture.
The exact decision was the government “cannot expel aliens to countries where their ‘life or freedom would be threatened’ on account of their ‘race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion’ or where they will likely face torture.”
Unfortunately, it was not a strike down of Title 42 which Donald Trump instituted and the Joe Biden administration has kept firmly in place and enforced.
But it’s nevertheless significant, as Huisha-Huisha now provides a bulwark against the federal government’s efforts to illegally deport immigrants, especially to countries such as Haiti that are experiencing conflict, turmoil, upheaval or environmental cataclysm.
The Court also noted that immigrants “have already been forced to walk the plank into those places, the record is replete with stomach-churning evidence of death, torture, and rape.”
Attorney Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, who argued the appeal said: “This is an enormous victory. We have argued from the beginning that the Title 42 policy is illegal and inhumane, and every court to address the issue has agreed. The court’s ruling leaves no doubt that this brutal policy has resulted in serious harm to families seeking asylum and must be terminated.”
Tami Goodlette, director of litigation at the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES), said that the “decision is a win for immigrants and confirms what we have been fighting for: that the expulsion of immigrants under Title 42 is inhumane, immoral, and illegal and it must end.”
In commenting on the ruling, Lawyers for Civil Rights executive director, Ivan Espinoza-Madrigal, noted that while the decision did not strike down Title 42, it “creates legal and procedural safeguards to protect immigrants.”
“Moving forward, immigrants cannot be deported without an assessment of whether they will be safe,” he added. “It’s shameful that it took a court ruling against the Biden administration to enforce this basic right. The federal government must stop deporting immigrants to dangerous places. Immigrants cannot be deported to persecution and torture.”
International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP), Litigation Staff Attorney Kathryn Austin added that “the Biden administration now must fulfill its pledge to restore a just and humane immigration system by fully revoking the Title 42 policy and other illegal barriers to asylum.”
It is now left to be seen whether the Biden administration, which has embraced this Trump executive power implemented program, will follow the court order while keeping Title 42 firmly in place, or roll it back as the pandemic lessens.
After all, the administration shamelessly appealed the lower court decision last year that had said Title 42 was likely illegal and should not be applied to exclude families from seeking asylum in the U.S.
Biden’s critics are growing daily as he tries to prove he is not an open border president, while punishing his own base that got him elected, and scapegoating immigrants. The hypocrisy is nauseating.
The writer is publisher of NewsAmericasNow.com––The Black Immigrant Daily News.