CDC exempts unaccompanied migrant children from deportation

Immigration

Young unaccompanied migrants, that range in age from 3 to 9, sit inside a play pen at the U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, the main detention center for unaccompanied children in the Rio Grande Valley, in Donna, Texas, Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (AP Photo/Dario Lopez-Mills, Pool)

DALLAS (AP) — Unaccompanied migrant children will be exempt from a ban on migrants seeking asylum at the U.S. border, federal health officials ordered Friday.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s order confirmed a temporary exception it had ordered in February from a total asylum ban issued in October.

The Trump administration cited concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic to justify the October ban. But with COVID-19 vaccination rates climbing, the change suggests that the Biden administration is considering a gradual lifting of the asylum ban.

A Justice Department attorney signaled the change during a court hearing Tuesday in Fort Worth. The hearing dealt with a lawsuit filed by the state of Texas to compel enforcement of the Trump ban.

U.S. District Judge Mark Pittman, a Trump appointee, questioned Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Stoltz about the timing of the new order and asked that the government inform him as soon as it is issued. Pittman did not rule on the request for an injunction but said he would put out a decision “as quickly as I can.”

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