The U.S. Supreme Court maintains the pandemic-era restrictions on border access for now

The U.S. Supreme Court has left in place a policy from the pandemic era that allowed officials at the U.S. border with Mexico to quickly expel any migrants.

The court voted 5-4 to grant a request from Republican state attorneys general for the suspension of a judge’s invalidating Title 42’s emergency public health order.

According to the 19 states, lifting the policy would lead to an increase of already record-breaking border crossings as well as strain the resources of states that host migrants. In February, the court will hear arguments from states about whether they can intervene in defense of Title 42.

The ruling should be made by June 30th.

President Joe Biden stated that the U.S. would enforce the order until it was resolved.

He said, “But I believe it’s past due.”

Chief Justice John Roberts is a member of the court’s conservative 6-3 majority. On Dec. 19, he issued an administrative temporary stay to maintain Title 42, while the court considered whether the policy should be extended. It was originally set to expire on Dec. 21.

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court’s three liberal judges – Sonia Sotomayor Elena Kagan, Ketanji Jackson, and Ketanji Kagan – to dissidentically call Tuesday’s decision “unwise.”

He asked why the court would rush to hear the dispute about “emergency orders that have outlived the shelf life” and stated the only reason was that Title 42, which the states claimed would mitigate an “immigration crises”, was not plausible.

Gorsuch stated that the border crisis at present is not a COVID emergency in the opinion of Jackson. Courts should not continue to enforce administrative regulations that are specific to one crisis because elected officials failed to respond to a second emergency.

The court’s ruling was not immediately commented on by Mexico’s foreign minister.

The International Rescue Committee, an aid group, stated in a statement that Title 42 was used to justify nearly 2.5 million expulsions from March 2020. It also claimed that U.S. Border policies have caused severe strain across the region and made migration more difficult.

Title 42 was implemented for the first time under Republican ex-President Donald Trump in March 2020, when COVID-19 began.

It was initially maintained by the Democratic Biden Administration, but it was removed in April when the U.S. Health Authorities stated that it wasn’t necessary to stop COVID-19 from spreading. In response to an American-led legal challenge, a Louisiana federal judge ruled against the repeal.

Enrique Lucero was the director of Tijuana’s migration affairs. He said that it was absurd that Title 42 was not removed, noting a large number of U.S. asylum seekers in Tijuana.

He said, “This measure must be eliminated sooner or later.”

Miguel Colmenares was a Venezuelan immigrant living in Tijuana at the Mexican border. He said that upon hearing the decision of the court, he didn’t know what he would do.

The 27-year-old said, “I don’t have any money and my family is waiting for me.”

“It is a terrible thing that we must wait.”

The American Civil Liberties Union represented a group of migrants seeking asylum in the United States. They argued that the U.S. government’s policy had caused them serious harm, including kidnapping and assaults.

The U.S. District judge Emmett Sullivan, Washington, D.C., decided in favor of the migrants and declared Title 42 illegal.

Sullivan was appointed by Democratic ex-President Bill Clinton and said that the government had failed to demonstrate the danger of migrants spreading COVID-19. He also said that the government failed to consider what Title 42 would do for asylum seekers.

Biden sought to give time for preparations to end the policy. At that point, migrants could once more, just as before the pandemic, request asylum at their border. Sullivan granted it up to Dec. 21.

A group of Republican state attorney generals were unhappy with the decision by the lower court and sought to intervene in order to defend the policy before the court. They appealed to the Supreme Court after Sullivan’s orders were placed on hold by a Federal Appeal Court on December 16.

“It is disappointing that the Biden Administration is willing to sacrifice safety for American families for political reasons,” stated Republican Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich. Brnovich is leading the defense of Title 42.


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