The change was announced shortly before a court order was to take effect that would have allowed the Biden administration to expel unaccompanied children seeking asylum under Title 42 authority, which was introduced in March 2020 to prevent spread of COVID-19. The order remains in place for adults and families traveling with children.
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Testing and other preventive measures allow children traveling alone to be released to sponsors in the United States, the CDC said. Sponsors are typically family or other close relatives.
A federal judge ruled in a lawsuit by the state of Texas that the CDC failed to explain why children traveling alone were exempted from Title 42, and gave the administration a week to appeal. Instead, the CDC lifted the order — but only for unaccompanied children.
Migrants have been expelled more than 1.6 million times under Title 42, named for a 1944 public health law. Biden has kept the order in place but exempted unaccompanied children during his first days in office.
Prominent Democrats and advocacy groups have been pressing to end Title 42 for all migrants. “It is not a humane or effective solution to securing our border,” U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, tweeted on Friday.