WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court Tuesday allowed Title 42, a Trump-era immigration policy put in place when the pandemic broke out to quickly remove asylum seekers at the border, to stay in effect for now, upholding a judge’s ruling that would have finished last. week on hold.
The court voted 5-4 to grant an emergency request from 19 Republican state attorneys general who tried to intervene in defense of the policy. The decision puts on hold a ruling by Washington-based U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan, who said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s implementation of the policy was “arbitrary and capricious.” Sullivan’s ruling was to take effect on December 21.
Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the three Liberals on the court in voting against the stay request. The brief court order said that while the administration cannot set aside the Title 42 policy, the decision “does not preclude the federal government from taking any action with respect to that policy.”
The Supreme Court also agreed to hear oral arguments in February. and decide whether states can intervene, with a decision expected by the end of June.
The court’s intervention prevents what many had predicted would be a further surge of people seeking to enter the United States at a time when border crossings are already high. Without the policy in place, asylum seekers could enter the US, where they could wait years for a court date if they pass their initial interview with authorities.
Title 42 is strongly supported by Republicans alarmed by the number of people crossing the southern border and opposed by immigrant rights groups, who say it is inhumane. Some Democrats, including Sen. from West Virginia. Joe Manchin, have expressed their support for it to be maintained at least temporarily. Another Democrat, California Governor Gavin Newsom, has warned that the system for handling migrants seeking asylum would be “broken” if Title 42 is eliminated.
On December 19, Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily stayed Sullivan’s ruling while the Supreme Court considered its next steps.
States led by the Republican attorneys general of Arizona and Louisiana filed the emergency request last week, after the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia denied his request to intervene in the case in an attempt to prevent the policy from being cancelled.
The states argued that President Joe Biden’s administration had “abandoned meaningful defense” of the rule, saying it effectively crafted, with the help of lawyers who challenged the policy, a ruling that would end it. As a result, states sought to intervene to keep it in place. The appeals court had said in its order that the states waited too long before trying to intervene.
In a separate case, a federal judge blocked the administration’s earlier effort to undo the policy.
Named after a section of US law, Title 42 gives the federal government the power to take emergency measures to keep disease out of the country. Then-President Donald Trump invoked it when the coronavirus pandemic broke out in March 2020, and it has remained in place throughout the Biden administration. As a result, more than 2 million people have been expelled from the country.
Many nationalities and demographic groups have been exempted from the policy, including children traveling alone and some nationalities whose countries refuse to repatriate them, such as Cuba, Nicaragua and, until recently, Venezuela.
Various civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, challenged the policy on behalf of people affected by it.
julia ainsley contributed.