A pandemic-related regulation restricting immigration from Mexico to the United States remains in place for the time being. A judge from the US state of Louisiana ordered on Friday (local time) that the rule known as “Title 42”, which President Joe Biden’s administration plans to expire next Monday, remains in effect for the time being.
Judge Robert Summerhays ruled that the plaintiff Republican governors of more than 20 US states had provided sufficient grounds for an injunction against the lifting of the deportation rule.
The White House said the government did not agree with the decision, but would abide by the order and continue to prepare for an end to “Title 42”.
The legal dispute over the controversial regulation is therefore not settled: the US Department of Justice immediately announced that it would appeal the judge’s decision, arguing that in view of the current pandemic situation it was no longer justified to maintain the restriction.
The regulation of the US health authority CDC was decided in March 2020 under Biden’s Republican predecessor Donald Trump. It enables the authorities to quickly deport most migrants who have entered the country illegally, citing the health risks associated with the pandemic.
The authorities can avoid a formal deportation process with detailed questioning of those affected and a justification of the decision. Based on Title 42, there have already been more than 1.8 million refusals at the border, with some migrants appearing to have made multiple attempts to immigrate to the United States.
According to the border protection agency CBP, around 95,000 people were deported at the US-Mexico border in April of this year alone. In the previous months, the figures had been of a similar magnitude.
Under Trump’s successor Biden, the regulation was initially only suspended for unaccompanied minors. The CDC finally announced in late March that it would abolish it altogether, effective May 23.
The topic is politically highly charged: The opposition Republicans accuse the Democratic President Biden of further fanning a migration “crisis” on the border with Mexico.
More than 20 Republican governors had therefore sued for the retention of the regulation. Judge Summerhays said the plaintiffs had argued that otherwise there would be an increase in border crossings and thereby “an increase in illegal immigrants residing in the States.” “The court finds that the plaintiff states have satisfied every requirement for an injunction,” the federal judge said.
Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey welcomed the judge’s decision, writing on Twitter, “The federal court stepped in to protect our nation when the Biden administration failed to do so.”
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott complained that Biden was pursuing an “open borders policy” in violation of federal law.