The US government has begun expulsion of Central American and Mexican families to southern Mexico to prevent migration by bolstering an ‘inhumane’ eviction policy championed by Trump administration.
At least 200 Mexican and Central American family members were expelled to Mexico on Thursday, according to Reuters, in a move aimed at disrupting crossings under a US border policy ‘Title 42’.
US President Joe Biden has reversed many immigration policies introduced by his mercurial Republican predecessor, but has continued with the controversial ‘Title 42’ policy.
Health experts and pro-migrant advocates argue that the policy cuts off access to asylum without a clear health rationale, but Biden administration officials have termed it necessary to prevent US detention centers from becoming overwhelmed as the delta variant of Covid-19 spreads in the US.
Quoting a person familiar with the matter, Reuters said the use of the strategy under which Mexican migrants were caught at the US-Mexico border and flown to southern Mexico by the Trump administration officials, is new under Biden.
The Biden administration last week announced that it would subject migrant families to a fast-track deportation process known as "expedited removal" to their home countries from US detention centers.
The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement the flights would transport Guatemalan, Honduran and Salvadoran migrant families who could not be immediately expelled under a coronavirus-related public health policy and did not have a legal basis to stay in the country.
However, on Monday, pro-migrant groups restarted litigation that aims to stop the Biden administration from expelling families under Title 42.
The groups frustrated with Biden's continued use of the controversial Trump-era expulsion policy for migrant families have sought to block it in courts.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), one of the groups challenging Title 42, has claimed the policy denies migrants a legal right to claim asylum and returns them to situations of grave danger in Mexico.
Lee Gelernt, the lead ACLU lawyer in the case, said the flights to southern Mexico could inflict harm.
“The Biden administration is apparently looking for new ways to expel people and in the process subject these desperate migrants to additional trauma,” he was quoted as saying by Reuters.
Immigration, and particularly the arrival of asylum seekers at the US southern border, has been a contentious issue for decades. Trump was slammed for pursuing “inhumane” immigration policies and Biden has chosen to walk along the same route so far.