The administration of United States President Joe Biden was blocked from expelling migrant families with children who have been apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border following a ruling by a judge related to a public health order, which marks a major loss for the Democratic party.

In a long-awaited ruling, Judge Emmet Sullivan of the District of Columbia District Court on Thursday acknowledged that his decision would force the federal government to make harsh resolutions. However, he noted that there were enough measures in place to reduce the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ruling To Protect Migrant Families

"But in view of the wide availability of testing, vaccines, and other minimization measures, the Court is not convinced that the transmission of COVID-19 during border processing cannot be significantly mitigated. Indeed, the government has successfully implemented mitigation measures with regard to processing unaccompanied minors in order to minimize risk of COVID-19 transmission," Sullivan's 58-page ruling detailed.

Sullivan's ruling will take effect after 14 days from his announcement and prevents the Biden administration from relying on the public health order to turn migrants away. The decisions were made to curb the spread of the health crisis, CNN reported.

More than 70,000 migrant families were allowed to enter the United States in August, while 16,000 others were turned away, based on US Customs and Border Protection data. Many immigrant advocates have criticized the Biden administration by arguing with the policy, which has been in place since the time of former President Donald Trump. They said that it went against the country's openness in welcoming migrants.

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In March 2020, the Trump administration enacted Title 42, which allowed authorities to rapidly expel migrants at the southern border, often within minutes and without detention. While Biden has continued to enforce the policy, he has since exempted unaccompanied children and most families. Only 19% of migrants expelled in August were under Title 42, mainly due to the Mexican government refusing to accept back families with small children, Fox News reported.

Border Crossings in the United States

Sullivan's ruling argued that the policy did not give Biden's administration the power or authority to expel migrants. However, the ruling does not apply to single adults, who account for most migrants expelled under the order.

The number of migrants that attempted to enter the United States in August was still fewer than the two-decade high recorded earlier this July. However, the number of migrants seen last month was still far higher than in past years. Many Republicans are criticizing Biden over what they consider is a continuing crisis.

In July and August, 212,672 and 208,887 migrants were apprehended, respectively, when they tried to cross the border. The numbers have surpassed every recorded number since 2000, such as last year where the CBP only made 50,014 apprehensions.

On Wednesday, the CBP released data showing that 25% of the border crossings involved individuals who had previously been encountered, leaving 156,641 unique encounters last month. Since July, the number of unaccompanied children trying to cross the border was at an average of nearly 19,000 every month, ABC News reported.

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