Trump Administration Intentionally Expelled Thousands of Unaccompanied Children to Danger Under Title 42

Friday, May 17, 2024
Last modified: 
May 17, 2024

Report by The Center for Human Rights of the Child of the Loyola School of Law, with Expertise from the American Immigration Council

Under the auspices of protecting the public from COVID-19, beginning in 2020, the Trump administration expelled thousands of unaccompanied children pursuant to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Title 42 policy (1944). The appropriation of the obscure statute was used to upend the rule of law, including federal statutes designed to protect unaccompanied migrant children. The public health policy, colloquially referred to as Title 42, was used to summarily expel children beginning in March 2020 until an injunction halted the practice in November 2020. By that time, the U.S. government had expelled nearly 16,000 children under Title 42. These expulsions were summary in nature, resulted in extreme danger to children, and were carried out without safety plans to provide care for the children.

In an effort to understand how the US government came to expel 16,000 migrant children, the Center for the Human Rights of Children, together with the expertise of the American Immigration Council (Council), pursued transparency around the government’s deliberation (or lack thereof) to expel unaccompanied children under Title 42. The Council obtained government records through Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed in collaboration with the Loyola University Chicago’s Center for Human Rights of Children.

The documents, detailed below, demonstrate the Trump administration’s reckless, at times intentionally malicious, lack of consideration for the safety and wellbeing of unaccompanied children and for the legal protections afforded to them under federal law. The documents also reveal how ill-organized and chaotic the Trump administration’s efforts were in carrying out its Title 42 policy of expelling migrants, including unaccompanied children, back to the countries they had fled. The documents show that the Trump Administration did not care about the safety of children and, under at least one instance, was motivated to summarily deport as many children as possible despite known dangers to children.

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