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P.J.E.S. v. Wolf, et al. (U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, November 18, 2020): The court blocked a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) directive allowing expulsion of unaccompanied migrant children at the border in an attempt to control COVID-19. The policy allowed the federal Department of Homeland Security to expel migrant children without legal processes or protections normally afforded under immigration law. Plaintiff, a 16-year-old Guatemalan boy seeking asylum, asked the court to prevent his immediate expulsion and extend protection to similarly situated children by certifying a class of affected children. The court certified the class and prevented the expulsion. It found CDC exceeded its authority in relying on a law that allowed the government to prohibit introduction of foreign citizens, but not their expulsion. Second, the court determined that the boy and similarly situated children would likely suffer irreparable injury in the form of sexual abuse, physical violence, or child trafficking upon expulsion. Third, the balancing of interests favored the class of children because the order did not effectively mitigate COVID-19 risk and the potential harm to children outweighed inconveniences to the government. Read the full opinion here

View all cases in the Judicial Trends in Public Health – December 1, 2020.

View all cases under “Source & Scope of Public Health Legal Powers.”