Reason Roundup

CDC Extends Trump-Era Migrant Expulsion Policy, Citing Delta Variant

Plus: Enough about FOSTA's "unintended" consequences, another blow to the FTC's Facebook case, and more...


Despite pledges to dismantle former President Donald Trump's immigration policies, President Joe Biden and his administration keep extending them. On Monday, the administration announced another extension of a rapid expulsion policy instituted under Trump, which denies people the right to apply for refugee status on humanitarian grounds.

The announcement came from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) head Rochelle Walensky, who cited concerns about "severe overcrowding" at detention facilities "and a high risk of COVID-19 transmission." She explained that the agency was issuing a new order extending Trump's March 2020 invocation of Title 42 to block certain travel across U.S. borders with Canada and Mexico and to quickly expel people attempting to enter.

Title 42 of the Public Health Service Act gives federal authorities the right to impose broad disease mitigation measures. Last year, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the Trump administration used this to justify a ban on most border crossings at ports of entry and Border Patrol stations near the U.S.-Canada and U.S.-Mexico borders, and to say that people attempting to cross "will immediately be expelled to their country of last transit," instead of being held for processing before a decision.

Immigration advocates had hoped the Biden administration would reverse course. Instead, it presided over a drastic increase in the number of expulsions, apprehensions, and people deemed inadmissible.

Last October, 63,005 people at the southern border were subject to expulsion under Title 42. In January, it was 62,531 people. But since then, the numbers have steadily and significantly ticked up: 72,317 in February 2021, 107,105 in March, 110,696 in April, 111,296 in May, and 103,014 in June.

There's also been a steady increase in "apprehensions or inadmissibles" at the southern border. (U.S. Customs and Border Protection explains that "apprehensions refers to the physical control or temporary detainment of a person who is not lawfully in the U.S. which may or may not result in an arrest" and "inadmissibles refers to individuals encountered at ports of entry who are seeking lawful admission into the United States but are determined to be inadmissible, individuals presenting themselves to seek humanitarian protection under our laws, and individuals who withdraw an application for admission and return to their countries of origin within a short timeframe.")

Last October, 6,044 people were subject to apprehension or deemed inadmissible. In June, it was 75,402 people.

Walensky cited the Delta variant as the latest excuse for extending these policies. "While scientists learn more about Delta and other emerging variants, rigorous and increased compliance with public health mitigation strategies is essential to protect public health," she said Monday.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and several other groups will resume challenging the Title 42 policy in court. The Trump-turned-Biden-era policy "restricts immigration at the border based on an unprecedented and unlawful invocation of the Public Health Service Act," the groups state.

"We gave the Biden administration more than enough time to fix any problems left behind by the Trump administration, but it has left us no choice but to return to court. Families' lives are at stake," said Lee Gelernt, lead ACLU lawyer on the case.

"It's beyond cruel to use an obscure public health rule to turn away families seeking safety without due process and functionally shut down our asylum system — it's illegal," said Karla Marisol Vargas, a senior attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, which is part of the suit. "People have a legal right to seek safety in America and our government has the resources to safely process them into the country to have their cases heard. Initial promises on the part of the Biden administration to phase out Title 42 for only family units will not do enough. It is time to double down on the push to end Title 42 and force the government to follow the law."

CBS News notes that "the U.S. expects to record about 210,000 migrant apprehensions along the southern border in July, which would mark the highest monthly total since 2000, according to government data submitted to a federal court. It also expects to record 80,000 apprehensions of parents and children traveling as families, and 19,000 of unaccompanied minors—an all-time high."

The Biden administration has made some progress on getting rid of Trump-era immigration policies. It "quickly terminated the Trump administration practice of requiring migrants to wait in Mexico for their U.S. asylum hearings" and "discontinued the long-term detention of migrant families," points out CBS News. It "refused to expel unaccompanied children under Title 42, a practice that three judges found to be unlawful," and "has allowed 16,000 migrants deemed to be at-risk in Mexico to enter the U.S. under Title 42 exemptions." Yet it "has also vigorously defended in federal court its ability to continue Title 42, which it has used to expel the vast majority of migrant adults and some families with children encountered at the southern border."

Reason's Fiona Harrigan noted in July that while Biden "has made some welcome changes to his predecessor's immigration policies," he has also "kept many in place—and enacted questionable ones of his own. Case in point: Biden is now allowing a trickle of asylum seekers to enter the U.S. from Mexico, but it's unclear why some people may come and others may not."


"Enough About FOSTA's 'Unintended Consequences'; They Were Always Intended." At techdirt, Kendra Albert rips into the idea that the negative consequences of the 2018 "sex trafficking" law FOSTA—which criminalized the hosting of any ads that facilitate prostitution—were unintended. "The narrative of 'unintended consequences' is utter nonsense," Albert writes.

Negative effects on sex workers (and there were many) were not "unintended." The text of the law explicitly criminalizes the promotion of prostitution and it's hard to argue that an interpretation of the law that was clear from its text is unintended. Sex workers and trafficking survivors were very clear about the likely outcome of FOSTA/SESTA prior to its passage. Finally, this narrative is contradicted by what the organizations that supported FOSTA say about their own goals.

More here.


Another blow to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) antitrust case against Facebook. Carl Shapiro, the FTC's economics expert on the Facebook antitrust lawsuit, "has parted ways with the agency, two individuals familiar with the case said—adding yet another impediment to the regulator's largest court fight," Politico points out. "The FTC is now looking for a new expert, just three weeks before the agency must decide whether to file the new version of the Facebook lawsuit after a D.C.-based judge threw it out last month."

Shapiro hasn't said why he left. "But he has criticized new FTC Chair Lina Khan's aggressive approach to antitrust enforcement," notes Politico, "and she in turn has faulted the agency's traditional reliance on economists' analyses in its fights against alleged monopolists."


• Hospitals in a number of states and cities are being totally swamped with COVID-19 patients (and limiting visitors) once again.

• Seventy percent of U.S. adults have now taken at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.

• New York City says public employees must be vaccinated:

• Mask mandates are returning to San Francisco and to all of Louisiana.

• More than two years after New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft's arrest, a Florida judge has agreed to the destruction of the massage room video featuring Kraft. "Palm Beach County Judge Leonard Hanser agreed with prosecutors and Kraft's attorneys that the recording given to him before he ruled it inadmissible at trial was not part of the permanent court file and will be returned for destruction."

• A large cache of documents—released by Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in response to a Freedom of Information Act request from Gothamist and WNYC—details police misconduct among New York City police officers, "ranging from dishonesty to brutality to inappropriate associations with criminals."

• "One-third of white-tailed deer in the north-eastern United States have antibodies against SARS-CoV-2—a sign that they have been infected with the virus," reports Nature.

• A new book explores the hidden history of woman-led slave revolts.