A federal judge in Louisiana has blocked the Biden administration’s decision to lift the Title 42 health order that has allowed border officials to expel tens of thousands of illegal immigrants — keeping the policy in place hours before it was set to expire.
US District Judge Robert Summerhays issued his ruling on Friday, one week after hearing arguments in an April lawsuit filed by 24 Republican state attorneys general who sought to keep the policy in place.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced last month that the policy would be lifted on May 23 – sparking fears among both Republican and Democratic lawmakers of an exponential increase in crossings along the southern border.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US, Title 42 has allowed border officials to expel most migrants attempting to enter the US without hearing their asylum claims.
According to official estimates, more than 1.7 million migrants have been removed under the policy since it was implemented.
Summerhays, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, first issued a temporary restraining order in April to prevent Title 42 from being lifted before he made a ruling in the state AGs’ lawsuit.
The decision to lift Title 42 has been 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 of 234,088 repeat and unique migrant encounters along the southern border – but only 97,000 were removed under Title 42.
If the order had been lifted, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejendro Mayorkas warned that as many as 18,000 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.
This is a developing story.