Contributing to the recent flurry of border-related policy reform, a federal judge in Louisiana temporarily blocked the Biden administration from expelling migrants from Central America back to their home countries and instead ordered the administration to send them to Mexico under Title 42. He also ordered a two-week halt on the phasing out of pandemic-related restrictions on seeking asylum and raised doubts about the Biden administration’s plan to fully lift those restrictions on May 23.
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays also scheduled a critical hearing on May 13 in Lafayette to hear arguments on whether to block Title 42 from ending. He has thus far staked a position that is sympathetic with Louisiana, Arizona and 19 other states that sued to preserve so-called Title 42 authority, which denies migrants a chance at asylum on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19. In the order, Summerhays indicated that he plans to block the Biden administration from lifting Title 42 altogether.
The decision to end Title 42 authority by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention came last week. If permitted to stand, the Biden administration would return to detaining and deporting migrants who don’t qualify to enter and remain in the U.S..
Advocates for asylum-seekers say the restrictions endanger people fleeing persecution back home and violates rights to seek protection under U.S. law and international treaty. As the CDC acknowledged, the public health justification for the order has weakened as the threat of COVID-19 has waned.
However, the decision has since been subject to growing criticism from elected officials in Biden’s Democratic Party who contend the administration is unprepared for an anticipated increase in asylum-seekers.
On April 3, Arizona, Missouri and 19 other states filed a lawsuit in the Western District of Louisiana, asking District Judge Robert R. Summerhays, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, to stop the Biden administration from ending Title 42.
Texas filed a separate lawsuit on April 22 asking that a judge prevent the Biden administration from ending Title 42. Both lawsuits argue the Biden administration violated administrative procedural laws and that if Title 42 is lifted as planned, it could lead to chaos at the border.