Supreme Court expands Trump-era pandemic immigration rule to allow faster deportations

Asylum seekers from Central America sit next to a vehicle that was stopped by police after crossing the Rio Grande into Eagle Pass, Texas, from Mexico on US Route 90, in Hondo, Texas, USA on June 1, 2022.

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

The Supreme Court ruled Tuesday to keep in place for now a controversial Trump-era rule that allows the United States to deport migrants at the Mexican border as a public health measure in response to the pandemic.

The court voted 5-4 to grant an emergency petition from 19 Republican state attorneys general who sought to intervene in defense of the policy. The Supreme Court also agreed to hear oral arguments in February and rule on whether states can intervene, with a decision by the end of June. The policy will remain in effect at least until this ruling is made.

“Title 42 is a public health measure, not an immigration enforcement measure, and should not be extended indefinitely,” the White House said in a statement. “To truly fix our broken immigration system, we need Congress to pass comprehensive immigration reform measures like those proposed by President Biden on his first day in office.”

Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the three liberals on the court in voting against the stay request. The brief court order said that while the administration cannot set aside the Title 42 policy, the decision “does not prevent the federal government from taking any action with respect to this policy.”

More than 2 million people have been deported at the southern border under the policy since 2020.

In November, a federal district court in D.C. had ordered the Department of Homeland Security to end the policy. 21, criticizing the deportations as arbitrary. But Republican-led states intervened in the case and successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to block that lower court ruling. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily blocked the Biden administration earlier this month to end the controversial policy.

The deportation policy originated with the Trump administration. In March 2020, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention used a provision of the Public Health Service Act, or Title 42, to ban migrants from crossing into the United States from Mexico or Canada due to the risk of spread covid The deportation policy is often referred to as Title 42.

But human rights groups and dozens of health experts fiercely criticized the policy as a way for the federal government to carry out arbitrary mass deportations at the US southern border under the guise of public health.

The Biden administration continued the policy until April 2022, when the CDC said it was no longer necessary to prevent the spread of Covid. The CDC and DHS had planned for the policy to end in May, but Republican states sued and got a federal court in Louisiana to block the Biden administration from ending deportations then as well.

Republicans and some Democrats argue that ending the policy will lead to a significant increase in migration to the southern border that communities are ill-equipped to handle. El Paso, Texas, declared a state of emergency on Saturday in response to the recent surge in migrants crossing the border.

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