“Socalj” for Borderland Beat
|El Paso, Texas recently declared a state of emergency due to an influx of migrants at its border.|
The pandemic-era border restrictions known as ‘Title 42’ will continue, at least for now, after the U.S. Supreme Court has granted an 11th-hour request by a group of Republican attorneys general from 19 states seeking to extend those restrictions. In an order signed by Justice John Roberts, the court asked for a response from the Biden administration by 5PM eastern time Tuesday.
Many have argued that lifting the restrictions would likely cause a surge of illegal immigration at the southern border. The restrictions — first put in place by the Trump administration in March of 2020 — had been set to lift Wednesday, December 21 at midnight.
The delay is another setback for immigrant advocates, who have long argued that Title 42 was intended to block access to asylum protections under the pretense of protecting public health during the worst parts of the pandemic.
In a statement Monday, the Department of Homeland Security wrote:
“As required by the Supreme Court’s administrative stay order, the Title 42 public health order will remain in effect at this time, and individuals who attempt to enter the United States unlawfully will continue to be expelled to Mexico.” The statement then encouraged Congress to “provide the funds” DHS has requested for border security and to “advance the comprehensive immigration measures President Biden proposed on his first day in office.”
When the Title 42 restrictions began more than two years ago at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, immigration authorities used the policy to quickly expel nearly all migrants they encountered, without giving them a chance to ask for asylum protection or other protections under U.S. law.
Shortly after taking office, the Biden administration exempted unaccompanied migrant children from the policy. It has also allowed many migrant families to seek asylum in the U.S. Still, the administration kept Title 42 in place for over a year, and defended it in court as necessary to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
In April of this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the Title 42 restrictions were no longer necessary to protect public health and moved to terminate the policy. But that effort was blocked by a federal judge in Louisiana, in a separate case brought by a group of Republican attorneys general. They argued that the CDC did not go through the proper procedures to end Title 42, and should have considered the impact on state healthcare systems and other costs.
Since then, immigration authorities have continued to enforce the policy for single adults and some families, expelling migrants well over 2 million times since Biden took office in January 2021.