Judge rules Title 42, allowing COVID asylum restrictions, can continue at border

By Rebecca Morin | USA TODAY

A federal judge in Louisiana is refusing to end pandemic-related restrictions on migrants seeking asylum on the southern border.

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays on Friday blocked a plan by President Joe Biden’s administration to lift the restrictions next Monday.

Title 42, a public health order issued by the Trump administration, allows Customs and Border Protection to expel migrants to Mexico or back to their home countries to prevent the spread of the coronavirus in holding facilities. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in April the policy would be rescinded on May 23 because it was “no longer necessary” after “considering current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19.”

The ruling is the latest blow to President Joe Biden’s immigration agenda. Over the past several weeks, he has been hit hard by Republicans and some Democrats for his administration’s decision to end Title 42. But progressive Democrats and immigration advocates have been calling on Biden for months to end the public health order.

Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri led the coalition of states challenging the Biden administration’s effort to lift Title 42. In a hearing earlier this month , they argued that their states’ health care, law enforcement and education systems would be overly burdened by an influx of undocumented immigrants if the public health restriction is lifted. 

Jean Lin, who represented the government, argued the CDC is allowed to end Title 42 because it was enacted as part of a public health response to the COVID-19 pandemic and not part of immigration policy. Ending Title 42 is at the discretion of the CDC director, she said. 

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