The ruling marks the latest setback for President Joe Biden as he aims to reverse his predecessor’s immigration policies
The US Supreme Court has ruled that the federal government may not end a policy allowing for the expulsion of certain immigrants on public health grounds, initially imposed amid the Covid-19 pandemic by former President Donald Trump.
In a decision on Tuesday, the nation’s highest court found that the Joe Biden administration must retain the controversial ‘Title 42’ program, saying that a related lawsuit brought by Republican officials in 19 states must be resolved first.
While the Trump-era policy was set to expire on December 21 following a lower court ruling which found that Title 42 expulsions were unlawful, the GOP-backed suit insisted that ending the rule risked a national “catastrophe” and untrammeled immigration into the United States, urging the Supreme Court to delay its decision.
The justices said that while they would hear additional arguments about the program over the next year, with oral arguments expected sometime in February, the expulsions would continue in the meantime.
The court’s order was unsigned, but added that Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor would have denied the Republican officials’ request to maintain the Title 42 provisions. Justices Ketanji Brown Jackson and Neil Gorsuch also issued a dissent to the ruling, arguing that “the emergency on which those [Title 42] orders were premised has long since lapsed,” referring to the coronavirus pandemic.
Based on legislation passed during World War 2, the Title 42 expulsions were introduced by President Trump in March 2020, in the early months of the global health crisis. Since then, the federal government has invoked the rule to send up to 2.5 million migrants back to Mexico or their countries of origin while barring them from attempting to apply for asylum.
President Biden has acted to reverse Trump’s more restrictive border rules since taking office, but has faced vocal Republican opposition. In addition to the Title 42 powers, the administration has so far failed to end the Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy, which permits border agencies to send migrants who enter the southern US border back to Mexico as they await their immigration or asylum proceedings.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre later responded to Tuesday’s ruling, saying that Biden would follow the court order, and is continuing “preparations to manage the border in a secure, orderly, and humane way when Title 42 eventually lifts and will continue expanding legal pathways for immigration.”
“Title 42 is a public health measure, not an immigration enforcement measure, and it should not be extended indefinitely,” she added.
December 28, 2022 at 08:35AM