A federal judge has promised to decide by May 23 whether he will allow the Biden administration to go forward with its plans to end the border policy known as Title 42.
U.S. District Court Judge Robert Summerhays of the Western District of Louisiana told Justice Department and state attorneys general during a hearing Friday that he will continue the temporary halt on President Joe Biden's plan to stop imposing the pandemic public health policy, which allows for most illegal migrants who come across the border to be turned back. A final decision and more details will be released in the next 10 days.
The Biden administration announced in early April that it would end Title 42 at the recommendation of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more than two years, the CDC has recommended that U.S. border authorities expel people rather than take them into custody on the basis that it would slow the spread of the coronavirus. During that time, the United States expelled 1.6 million people through the authority.
The administration moved to lift the policy after months of pressure from immigrant advocates, who say that the rule unfairly penalizes people seeking asylum. But, the change is expected to result in even more chaos at the border.
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Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri sued the Biden administration in early April on the basis that the federal government had failed to plan for how it would adequately respond to the anticipated surge in noncitizens expected to cross when Title 42 goes away.
"This suit challenges an imminent, man-made, self-inflicted calamity: the abrupt elimination of the only safety valve preventing this Administration’s disastrous border policies from devolving into an unmitigated chaos and catastrophe," the complaint states.
Eighteen other states have joined the initial three, for a total of 21 states.
Summerhays, a Trump appointee, initially said on April 27 that he would issue a temporary restraining order against ending Title 42.
In court in Lafayette, Louisiana, Solicitor General Jean Lin argued that the CDC had judged by the availability of coronavirus vaccines, the decline in infectious people, and the availability of tests that it was the appropriate time to end the policy.
But Arizona Deputy Solicitor General Ensign argued that the CDC’s decision was “arbitrary and capricious” because it failed to take into account the harm that states would sustain if, as predicted, 18,000 noncitizens are encountered at the border each day in the weeks after May 23.
“It has been proven in courts that the burden cost of illegal immigrants lay over the states’ shoulder,” Ensign said, according to a report by the Acadiana Advocate from inside the courtroom. “We don’t have two different healthcare systems, one for the pandemic and one for the other services. That means that the extra cost related to the illegal immigrants will affect the capacity of our system to face COVID-19.”
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Lin maintained that Title 42 was not an immigration order and that the CDC’s decisions “can’t be based on the alleged projection of the number of immigrants crossing the border or the alleged rise in healthcare costs.”