A federal judge in Louisiana on Friday ordered the Biden administration to continue implementing pandemic-related border restrictions that effectively shut down humanitarian relief options for asylum seekers.
The restrictions were due to end on Monday.
The restrictions were first implemented during the Trump administration by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which issued an order that derives its authority from a decades-old public health law known as the Title 42.
The White House said it “did not agree” with the decision but would abide by it.
“The power to set public health policy at the national level should rest with the Centers for Disease Control, not a single district court. However, pursuant to the court injunction, the Biden administration will continue to enforce the CDC’s Public Health Authority 2020 Title 42 pending appeal,” said White House press secretary Karine Jean. -Pierre, in a press release.
The Justice Department said in a statement that it would appeal the decision.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has invoked its authority under Title 42 due to the unprecedented dangers to public health caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC has now determined, in its expert opinion, that continued reliance on this authority is no longer warranted in light of current public health circumstances. This decision was a lawful exercise of CDC authority,” the statement said.
Today’s ruling grants the GOP-led states’ motion for a preliminary injunction against the 42 title rollback. The injunction is expected to remain in place until the case is resolved, the government sets its approaches or until the government obtains a more favorable decision on appeal, if applicable.
The decision by Trump-appointed Judge Robert R. Summerhays comes as the Biden administration’s homeland security apparatus remains strained by a historic level of unauthorized migration in the Southwest.
The ACLU previously won a separate court order in another Title 42 legal battle that bars families from being referred to persecution and torture starting Monday.
“Currently, under Title 42, there are no significant projections,” the ACLU’s Lee Gelernt said Friday. “To the extent that the government says that there are screenings, the process is totally illusory because you have to know how to ask for it and anyway it is only torture, not persecution. As a result, there were very few screenings.
Gelernt, the ACLU’s lead attorney in the DC Title 42 case, has fought Title 42 for the past two years. While border officials currently use case-by-case assessments to determine whether migrants are subject to Title 42 or traditional immigration processing, the ACLU says these checks are insufficient.
“Louisiana’s decision is flawed and constitutes a transparent attempt by these states to end asylum,” Gelernt said. “These states only care about COVID restrictions as they relate to asylum seekers. How quickly the administration moves to reverse it will tell us a lot about whether the White House really wants Title 42 to end.
Immigration authorities stopped and detained migrants 234,088 times along the southwestern border last month, the highest monthly total in the public Customs and Border Protection datasets. That number includes a 183% increase in the number of inadmissible migrants trying to pass through US land ports since March.
In April, DHS said it removed 96,908 migrants under the authority of Title 42 and 15,171 migrants under Title 8, which was the primary deportation authority before the pandemic.
It’s unclear what impact the use of Title 42 has on overall migration, despite claims by Republicans in Congress that it works as an effective deterrent.
Suspected illegal border entries have reached a record high in the last two years of the Title 42 ordinance. Meanwhile, the number of repeated border crossing attempts has nearly quadrupled since the first year of implementation of title 42.
One explanation for the increase in repeat illegal entries is the lack of long-term consequences for those processed and immediately deported from the United States. again.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas met with senior immigration officials at the border this week as he oversees preparations the department is making in case the level of migration rises further. At a news conference to discuss the trip, he noted that the Justice Department would decide whether to appeal the Louisiana court’s decision.
Mayorkas this week presented the ministry’s plan for the border transition away from Title 42, which involves increasing homeland security resources, improving processing capacity and efficiency, intensifying the consequences for the increased border crossings, tougher crackdowns on transnational criminal smuggling networks and stronger alliances across Central and South America.
“We have a multi-pronged approach to a very dynamic situation,” Mayorkas said. “We are tackling this across the Department of Homeland Security, across the federal government with our state and local partners, and with our partners and allies south of our border.”
Mayorkas said authorities will increase criminal prosecutions along the southwest border to enforce the kind of consequences Title 42 does not allow, including multi-year re-entry bans for unauthorized migrants.
ABC News’ Luke Barr contributed to this report.