CDC says unaccompanied migrant children are exempt from ban on migrants seeking asylum

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

The order by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 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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