A judge for the US District Court for the District of Coumbiaruled Wednesday that the Trump administration must halt its expulsion of unaccompanied minor migrants.
The plaintiff, a 15-year-old migrant from Guatemala, alleged that the current US practices constituted violations of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act and the Foreign Affairs Reform and Restructuring Act of 1998.
During the COVID-19 outbreak in March, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new guidelines for handling the “introduction of persons from designated countries or places, if required, in the interest of public health.” This interim rule stated that those who were determined to pose a serious danger of spreading “communicable disease” should be returned to the country from which they entered the US, their country of origin, or “another location as practicable.”
The father of the plaintiff is living in the US, and the plaintiff sought to live with either his father or “another suitable sponsor.” The plaintiff stated that he experienced “severe persecution in Guatemala” and had his life threatened because he refused to join a gang.
The judge held that the plaintiff is likely to succeed in his case because:
(1) Section 265 “does not authorize deportation”; (2) “unaccompanied children are entitled to explicit statutory procedures and protections [and those] later-enacted statutes control over whatever [Section] 265 may authorize in general”; and (3) “subjecting Class Members to the CDC Orders is arbitrary and capricious in violation of the” APA.
Furthermore, the judge held that the expulsion is likely to cause irreparable injury should the persecution the plaintiff is claiming be true. On these grounds, the judge granted the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction to halt the expulsion of migrant children.
The court reached a similar holding earlier this year in the case of J.B.B.C. v. Wolf, in which a child from Honduras alleged similar threats.