Title 42, the controversial Trump-era border restriction, will remain in place while legal challenges end, the Supreme Court said on Tuesday, a move that ensures federal officials can continue to expeditiously deport immigrants at the U.S. border for at least the next few weeks. moon.
The 5-4 order was a victory for Republican-led states that urged the Supreme Court to step in and block lower court orders terminating the authority’s opinion. The Biden administration said it was ready to let authorities wind down and had taken precautions to prevent border chaos and any potential surge in immigration.
In its order, the court also agreed to hear the states’ appeals this term. The court said it would hear arguments in the case during arguments beginning in February 2023.
Judges Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said they would deny the application, without explaining their thinking. Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch also dissented, explaining his thinking in an order joined by liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Gorsuch said he “would not underestimate the states’ concerns” about border security. But Gorsuch pointed out that Article 42 was created to combat Covid-19 and that “the current border crisis is not a Covid crisis.”
“Courts should not enforce an executive order designed for one emergency simply because elected officials failed to address a different emergency,” Gorsuch wrote.
Since March 2020, Section 42 has allowed U.S. border agents to immediately deny immigrants crossing the southern border in the name of preventing Covid-19.
Immigrant advocates and public health experts have long condemned the use of public health authorities along the U.S. southern border as an inappropriate excuse to bar immigrants from entering the country. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, authorities have been used more than 2 million times to turn away immigrants in a nearly three-year period.
At the border, migrants have been waiting months in camps in Mexico, anticipating an end to authorities so they can file asylum claims in the United States. Immigrant advocates have tried to spread the latest news and information to immigrants, but desperation is growing, especially as temperatures drop.
El Paso, Texas has been at the center of the crisis as thousands of migrants have crossed the border. The city opened government-run shelters at its convention center, hotels and several idled schools to care for the migrants, though some still had to sleep on the streets in the frigid weather.
The Department of Homeland Security has been working on a plan to end the authority that includes mobilizing resources to the border, cracking down on smugglers and working with international partners.
The White House said it would comply with the order.
“Today’s order gives Republicans in Congress ample time to move past the political recriminations and work with their Democratic colleagues to address the challenges at our border by passing sweeping reforms and delivering the additional funding for border security,” White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
Last week, Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar acknowledged to the Supreme Court that restoring traditional agreements along the border would pose challenges, but said there was no longer a basis for maintaining the coronavirus-era rules.
“In no way is the government trying to minimize the magnitude of this problem. But the solution to immigration cannot be an indefinite extension of public health measures that are now acknowledged by all to have outstripped their public health justification,” Prelogar said in a statement. in a document filed with the Supreme Court.
In their argument, attorneys for the ACLU, which represents families subject to Article 42, highlighted the dangers faced by asylum seekers subject to authorities and sent back to Mexico.
Lead attorney for the plaintiffs in the case, Lee Grunt, told CNN in a statement that they are “deeply disappointed” by the ruling but will continue to fight to end the policy.
“We are deeply disappointed by all the desperate asylum seekers who continue to suffer because of Article 42, but we will continue to work towards an eventual end to the policy,” Grunt said.
Steve Vladek, a CNN Supreme Court analyst and professor at the University of Texas School of Law, called the order “procedurally odd.”
“This order is procedurally odd in that it grants a request to freeze district court rulings by states that weren’t even a party to that decision just to decide whether they should be allowed to intervene and defend the appeal ruling,” Vladek said. Say. “Article 42 aside, this has huge potential implications for the ability of states to continue working to prevent a current president from undoing the policies of his predecessor.”
The Republican-led states have argued that removing the power would harm their interests amid the influx of immigrants into the United States.
“The border crisis triggered by the respondents’ strange and eager quest would also do great harm to the states,” read a filing last Wednesday.
This story has been updated with additional reporting.