Pandemic-Era Title 42 Left in Place by US Supreme Court

Title 42, the controversial pandemic order allowing US officials to quickly expel migrants caught at the US-Mexico border, remains in place according to the decision the US Supreme Court brought Tuesday in a 5-4 vote.

Dashing hopes of immigration advocates who had been anticipating their end this week, the US Supreme Court’s decision is keeping Trump-era limits on immigration in place indefinitely, extending the temporary stay issued last week.

In line with Tuesday’s ruling, the stay will be maintained until the justices decide the case, which will be argued in February.

The court was deciding on the appeal made by 19 Republican state attorneys general to put on hold a judge’s ruling to end the emergency order, arguing that lifting the policy could additionally increase the already-record border crossings while it considers whether they could intervene to challenge the ruling.

A provisional stay maintaining Title 42 – which had been set to expire on December 21- while the court considered whether to keep it in place for longer was issued on December 19 by Chief US Supreme Court Justice John Roberts.

First implemented in March 2020 – at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic – under Republican former president Donald Trump, Title 42 was kept in place by President Joe Biden for more than a year after taking office in 2021 despite his promises made during the campaign to shift away from hardline immigration policies adopted by Trump.

Implementing Title 42, US Border Patrol agents immediately expelled almost half of the record 2.2 million migrants they apprehended at the southwest border in the 2022 fiscal year, which ended on September 30.

When the Biden administration attempted to lift Title 42 in April after health authorities said it was no longer needed to prevent the Covid-19 spreading, their attempt was blocked by a Trump-appointed federal judge in Louisiana.

Commenting on the Supreme Court’s decision on Tuesday, President Biden said that while the end to the Title 42 is overdue, it must remain in place and has to be enforced as ordered.

While the administration has to comply with the order, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced that they’re preparing to manage the border in a secure, orderly, and humane way.

He, however, renewed calls for Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform measures, challenging Republicans to join Democrats in solving the challenge at the border instead of the political finger-pointing they’re engaged in.

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