Republican-led states seek to block US from ending Title 42 border deportations

Fifteen states with Republican attorneys general filed a motion Monday night in federal court seeking to block the termination of a pandemic-era order that allows US border officials to quickly deport migrants on health grounds. public.

Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming asked U.S. Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit over migrant deportation policy, known as Title 42.

First authorized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in March 2020 under the Trump administration, Title 42 has allowed the United States to deport migrants more than 2.4 million times to Mexico or their country of origin, without allowing them to seek asylum, the government data exposure.

Earlier this month, Sullivan declared Title 42 illegal, discovery that the federal government had not properly decreed or explained the border deportations. Sullivan gave the Biden administration five weeks — until Dec. 21 — to stop deporting migrants under Title 42. He said he was doing it reluctantly, so officials could prepare for change. of politics.

In its emergency filing on Monday, the coalition of states said Biden administration officials had “abandoned their defense” of Title 42 by seeking only a five-week stay of Sullivan’s decision and without call.

“Because invalidating Title 42 orders will directly harm the states, they now seek to intervene to offer a defense of the Title 42 policy so that its validity can be resolved on its merits, rather than by strategic surrender,” wrote the States.

The states said the expiry of Title 42 would lead to even greater numbers of migrants crossing the US-Mexico border illegally. A sharp increase in migration, Republican attorneys general argued, would hurt their states financially, citing the costs of social services for migrants.

The states’ petition was opposed by the Biden administration and the American Civil Liberties Union, which filed a lawsuit challenging the Title 42 evictions.

Camp for Venezuelan migrants in Mexico
A view of the mostly populated camp of Venezuelan migrants in front of the U.S. Border Patrol operations post on the Rio Bravo River in Mexico on November 14, 2022.

Carlos Ernesto Escalona/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney in the case, said the states’ request was inconsistent with their opposition to other pandemic-related restrictions, such as vaccines and masks.

“States are clearly and wrongly trying to use Title 42 to restrict asylum and not for public health purposes,” Gelernt said. “Suddenly these states think there is a need to put in place COVID restrictions when it comes to migrants fleeing danger.”

While defending Title 42 for a year as a key public health measure, the Biden administration announced in April that it would phase out deportations, saying they were no longer needed to curb the spread of COVID-19 along the US-Mexico border.

But a coalition of Republican-led states, including many of those who joined Monday’s motion, convinced a federal judge in Louisiana to stop the termination of Title 42 on procedural grounds. That order was superseded by Sullivan’s decision earlier this month.

While Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials have said they are preparing for the end of Title 42 and a subsequent potential increase in illegal border crossings, its termination will eliminate the primary policy on which the Biden administration relied on to manage a record number of migrant apprehensions.

In fiscal year 2022, federal authorities along the southern border stopped migrants nearly 2.4 million times, an all-time high. More than a million of these border encounters have led to the deportation of migrants under Title 42, according to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statistics.

Last month, the United States expanded Title 42, deporting thousands of Venezuelan migrants to Mexico in an effort to deter an unprecedented wave of Venezuelan migration to the southern border.

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