A Louisiana federal judge on Friday blocked the Biden administration’s attempt to end the Title 42 health policy that allows rapid expulsion of illegal immigrants — keeping the policy in place hours before it was set to expire.
US District Judge Robert Summerhays sided with 24 Republican state attorneys who warned of a possible surge of migrants across the US-Mexico border that would overwhelm their resources.
Summerhays wrote in a 47-page ruling issuing a nationwide injunction that the states “demonstrated harm that will result… and that, despite the impact of the order on the states, they were not able to protect their interest by participating in the notice-and-comment process mandated by the [Administrative Procedure Act].”
The Title 42 order was adopted in 2020 by the Trump administration to allow for the near-immediate deportation of suspected illegal immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The fate of the policy became a point of conflict among Democrats, with more centrist party members arguing for keeping the order in place temporarily and more left-wing advocates urging its immediate repeal.
Multiple makeshift rafts are being used to cross from Guatemala into Mexico on May 17.Stringer/AFP via Getty Images
The decision to lift Title 42 was heavily criticized by officials in border states even as current migration levels soar with it in place.
In April, Customs and Border Protection reported a record high for that month of 234,088 repeat and unique migrant encounters along the southern border, but only 97,000 were removed under Title 42.
The number of arrests at the US-Mexico border hit a four-decade high last year.
If the order had been lifted, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejendro Mayorkas warned that as many as 18,000 migrants could cross the border daily.
Despite concerns, the Biden administration repeatedly defended the decision to lift the policy, with former White House press secretary Jen Psaki calling on Congress to take action if they wanted the policy to remain in place.