by Kaelan Deese
Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily paused lifting Title 42 immigration restrictions while the high court considers a Republican-backed request for a longer hold against the plan.
Republican attorneys general from 19 states succeeded in the request for an administrative stay over the pandemic-era policy allowing the government to expeditiously expel millions of immigrants from U.S. borders. Roberts asked for a response from the Biden administration by 5 p.m. local time on Tuesday.
The request to extend Title 42 comes one week after the Washington, D.C., federal appeals court on Friday allowed the Biden administration to end the policy as early as Wednesday and allow illegal immigrants who cross the southern border to seek asylum without risk of being removed.
The attorneys general argued their states would sustain irreparable harm if Title 42 ends due to a surge in already high levels of migrant encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“Getting rid of Title 42 will recklessly and needlessly endanger more Americans and migrants by exacerbating the catastrophe that is occurring at our southern border,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich (R) said in a press release. “Unlawful crossings are estimated to surge from 7,000 per day to as many as 18,000.”
Through the policy, more than 2.4 million people, mostly along the U.S.-Mexico border, have been expelled since the Trump administration first imposed the policy in March 2020 as an attempt to counter the spread of COVID-19.
U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan last month ordered the end of the Title 42 rule, holding that it was arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act.
Sullivan criticized the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention order that allowed the policy to go into effect in 2020, saying it “ignore[d] the harm that could be caused.” He noted the agency failed to consider other options, such as allowing immigrants to self-quarantine in homes of U.S.-based friends, family, or shelters, and noted the CDC should have reexamined its approach when COVID-19 vaccines and testing became more widely available in 2021.
But the request from conservative states also coincides with Democratic leaders who have expressed fears about ending the policy. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) said last week that lifting Title 42 could “break” his state, and New York City Mayor Eric Adams (D) said the expiration of the rule could cause the city to embrace service cuts in order to prioritize a new influx of immigrants over native New Yorkers.
Meanwhile, the White House has pushed back on criticism, saying the dissolution of the program “doesn’t mean the border’s open,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Monday.
“It would be wrong to think that the border is open. It is not open, and I just want to be very, very clear about that,” she added.
A federal official who spoke under the condition of anonymity told the Washington Post that homeland security officials are estimating an influx of between 9,000 to 14,000 migrant arrivals at the U.S.-Mexico border each day.
In El Paso, Texas, nearly 84,082 immigrants have been released into the city between Aug. 22 and Dec. 11. Immigrants were permitted to remain in the United States pending court hearings years down the road.