The ACLU of Texas, Center for Gender & Refugee Studies, Texas Civil Rights Project, ACLU of DC, ACLU National, and Oxfam filed a legal challenge to a Trump administration order which restricts lawful immigration at the border based on an unprecedented and unlawful invocation of the Public Health Service Act.
The president's order authorizes the removal of unaccompanied children without any due process — even if the child is fleeing danger and seeking protection in the U.S. and shows no signs of having COVID-19. It also authorizes the removal of adults seeking protection in the U.S.
The complaint is on behalf of G.Y.J.P., a 13-year-old girl from El Salvador, who attempted to seek asylum in the U.S. but was quickly deported without due process. Under longstanding immigration statutes protecting children, G.Y.J.P. should have been given shelter in a children’s facility until she could be released to her mother, already lawfully residing in the U.S. G.Y.J.P. should have had a full and fair proceeding to determine her right to protection in the U.S. The lawsuit is asking the court to declare the use of the order against G.Y.J.P. to be unlawful and allow her to return to have her asylum request heard.
The lawsuit argues that the administration is not authorized to issue the expulsion order under public health provisions in Title 42 of the U.S. Code — provisions that have rarely been used and never in this way. Title 42 does not permit expulsions of non-citizens who are in the U.S., nor does it legally allow the removal of children. Besides violating U.S. immigration law, G.Y.J.P.’s expulsion also violates the nation’s international obligations to protect people fleeing persecution and torture.