A federal judge in the United States ruled on Tuesday that the government could not use public health regulations to block the entry of asylum-seeking migrants, putting an end to a controversial policy criticized as cruel and ineffective during the administration of Donald Trump.
Judge Emmet Sullivan stated that Title 42, which has been used to expel hundreds of thousands of individuals since the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, was an “arbitrary and capricious” policy that violated government regulations.
The Department of Homeland Security filed a stay motion requesting that Tuesday’s ruling be stayed for five weeks but emphasized that this was a temporary measure.
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“The delay in implementation of the court’s order will allow the government to prepare for an orderly transition to new policies at the border,” according to a statement.
“But to be clear, under the unopposed motion, Title 42 would remain in place for some period. During the period of this freeze, we will prepare for an orderly transition to new policies at the border.”
The stay, until December 21 at midnight, would give the government time to implement tools to stem the flow of asylum-seeking migrants at the southern border with Mexico.
President Joe Biden and the Democratic Party, whom the Republicans have repeatedly sought to portray as soft on illegal immigration, are experiencing a growing political headache due to the escalating numbers at the border (more than 200,000 have been apprehended each month this year).
Before the ruling, newly re-elected Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced on Twitter that he would deploy the national guard and gunboats to turn back migrants.
He tweeted, “I invoked the Invasion Clauses of the US & Texas Constitutions to fully authorize Texas to take unprecedented measures to defend our state against an invasion.”
He stated that these clauses would permit him to “build a border wall” and “designate Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations.”
The Tuesday ruling resulted from a lawsuit filed in January by the American Civil Liberties Union, which accused the Department of Homeland Security and Border Patrol of “summary expulsion” of vulnerable asylum-seeking families who exhibited no symptoms of Covid infection.
“This is a huge victory and one that literally has life-and-death stakes,” said ACLU attorney Lee Gelernter, who spearheaded the lawsuit.
“We have said all along that using Title 42 against asylum seekers was inhumane and driven purely by politics. Hopefully, this ruling will end this horrific policy once and for all,” he said in a statement.
Six months earlier, a Louisiana judge ruled in a separate case that Biden’s administration, which inherited the Title 42 policy from Donald Trump, could not abandon it.
In this case, the judge stated that ending the use of Title 42 rule would violate government procedures.
Even though Biden’s campaign wanted to end the use of Title 42, it has continued to rely heavily on the policy.
A record 2,3 million migrants were encountered by border patrol agents along the land border with Mexico in the 12 months preceding September 22.
Critics labeled Title 42 as “inhumane” and said it was a haphazard immigration plan disguised as a health policy that served neither function.
The law, enacted in the nineteenth century to control contagious diseases, permits the immediate expulsion of any foreigner or non-citizen attempting to enter the country without a visa.
There is no legal process or formal deportation to the country of origin, and a border agent can apply a Title 42 expulsion without the typically lengthy interview process.
In contrast to a regular expulsion, which typically results in a ban on attempting to reenter the United States, a Title 42 expulsion does not carry a stigma.
Some have noted that this means illegal border crossers who are apprehended can simply try again.
Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, the director of policy at the American Immigration Council, stated that Title 42 was “a failed border management policy that caused chaos along the border, immeasurable harm to innocent people seeking our protection, and diminished our standing on the world stage.”
“Judge Sullivan’s decision is… a long overdue step toward rebuilding a humanitarian protection system at the border that is safe, humane, and orderly.”
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