A federal judge on Friday declined to issue an immediate ruling on Title 42, the Trump-era immigration health order that requires asylum seekers to wait outside the U.S. and which expedites deportations — a policy which President Joe Biden's administration is trying to end.
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays heard arguments from attorneys representing more than 20 Republican-led states that have sued the government to keep Title 42 in place. After the hearing, the judge said he will issue a ruling before May 23, when the order is set to expire, USA Today reported.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in April that Title 42 would be rescinded because a drop in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations made the order "no longer necessary." Left-wing immigration activists have campaigned against the order since it was enacted in 2020, arguing that it was motivated by former President Donald Trump's alleged racism and xenophobia.
Republican states, particularly those at the southern border, have said ending Title 42 would cause a surge of illegal immigration, which would overwhelm state healthcare, law enforcement, and education systems.
Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri are leading the coalition of states challenging the federal government to keep the health order in place. Drew Ensign, an attorney for Arizona, argued Friday that the Biden administration failed to follow proper administrative procedures requiring public notice and the gathering of public comments before deciding to rescind Title 42, the Associated Press reported. Ensign said the government failed to give proper consideration to the consequences of lifting the order and the burden it would place on state governments.
An attorney for the Department of Justice countered that the CDC acted within its authority to lift the emergency health restriction and that the issue at hand was health policy, not immigration policy.
“There is no basis to use Title 42 as a safety valve,” said Solicitor General Jean Lin. She also argued that Title 42 was intended as a temporary pandemic measure and was not required to have a notice and comment period.
The federal government has expelled more than 1.8 million migrants since March 2020 under its Title 42 authority. In April, the Department of Homeland Security estimated that law enforcement encounters with illegal immigrants would increase by as much as 18,000 per day once Title 42 is lifted.
In a previous ruling, Summerhays issued a temporary restraining order blocking the Biden administration from ending Title 42 before May 23. On Friday, the judge extended that order through May 23 or until a preliminary injunction against the order is issued if the court rules in Biden's favor.