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Federal judge extends block on Biden administration's plans to lift Title 42 border restrictions

Andrea Castillo, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

WASHINGTON — A Louisiana judge has extended his temporary block of the Biden administration’s plan to lift pandemic-related border restrictions on Monday.

In a ruling issued Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Lafayette wrote that lawyers for 24 plaintiff states had established that a “significant threat of injury” would arise if Title 42, a 1944 federal public health statute implemented by the Trump administration at the start of the pandemic, were to be lifted. He cited federal government figures predicting as large as a threefold increase in daily border crossings.

“The record also includes evidence supporting the plaintiff states’ position that such an increase in border crossings will increase their costs for health care reimbursements and education services,” Summerhays wrote in the 47-page ruling. “These costs are not recoverable.”

Last week, Summerhays heard arguments from lawyers for Louisiana, Arizona and Missouri in their lawsuit with 21 other states seeking to prevent the federal government from rescinding the Trump administration’s unprecedented decision to use Title 42, citing the need to curb the spread of COVID-19.

The ruling by Summerhays, a Trump appointee, keeps Title 42 in place as the lawsuit proceeds.

The decision marks the latest example of a federal court blocking President Joe Biden from ending restrictive Trump-era immigration policies or implementing his own. Republican-led states have also taken the Biden administration to court to prevent a 100-day moratorium on deportations and its immigration enforcement priorities, as well as to force the restart of the so-called Remain in Mexico program, which requires migrants to wait across the border for U.S. immigration court hearings.


Federal officials could appeal. But the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which receives cases from Louisiana, has ruled against the Biden administration on a variety of policies.

In the case before Summerhays, attorneys general for Arizona and the other states say the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention didn’t follow proper administrative procedures that require public notice and gathering of comments before moving to end the restrictions under Title 42. They argue that should Title 42 be lifted, border crossings will increase and border states will suffer from increased strain on their healthcare, education and law enforcement systems.

The Biden administration has argued that Title 42 is not an immigration policy, but a public health restriction that is no longer necessary.

Even so, the result was that its implementation slowed immigration to the U.S.


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