Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia ruled that minors could suffer irreparable harm because they could be subjected to sexual abuse or other violence, such as the possibility of torture or death, if sent quickly to their countries of origin.
President Donald Trump has made the fight against immigration a central theme of his four-year term and adopted a series of broad restrictions on immigration during the pandemic.
President-elect Joe Biden, who will take office on January 20, has pledged to reverse many of the Republican president’s harsh anti-immigration policies.
Biden has not yet commented on how he will handle the border emergency rules that allow rapid deportations. A Biden campaign official said he would let the experts decide the restrictions.
A U.S. Border Patrol official said in a document filed in September that 8,800 unaccompanied minors were deported under the border rules between March 20 and September 9.
In all, the United States expelled about 197,000 migrants trapped across the US-Mexico border from March to the end of September. The data could also include migrants who have crossed the border several times.
A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Lee Gelernt, who represented the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the policy was a pretext for Trump to close the border to children and asylum seekers in Central America.
The Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
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