(The Hill) – A federal judge in Louisiana on Friday temporarily stopped the Biden administration from ending Title 42, the Trump-era border management policy that allowed officials to quickly expel foreign nationals at the border under pandemic conditions.
The policy was due to end Monday as part of the Biden administration’s efforts to restructure border and immigration policy after the Trump administration’s overhaul of the system.
U.S. District Court Robert Summerhays granted a preliminary injunction to a group of GOP state attorneys general challenging the policy change. Summerhays, who was appointed by former President Trump, ruled that the Biden administration cannot roll back the policy while the broader legal challenge plays out in court.
“The Court agrees with the Plaintiff States that a nation-wide injunction is necessary for complete relief given the ability of immigrants crossing the border to move freely from one state to another,” the judge wrote in his 47-page decision. “A preliminary injunction limited to the Plaintiff States will likely do nothing more than shift border crossings from the Plaintiff States to states not covered by the preliminary injunction.”
Summerhays ruled that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) improperly circumvented a process to allow for public input before issuing an order to terminate the program.
“The Plaintiff States have demonstrated harm that will result from the Termination Order and that, despite the impact of the order on the states, they were not able to protect their interest by participating in the notice-and-comment process,” the judge wrote.
That ruling reflects the tenor of rulings against the Trump administration’s immigration initiatives — notably the terminations of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Temporary Protected Status designations — issued after lawsuits by blue states against the federal government.
The injunction is a political victory for the GOP states that brought suit, but it could also help the Biden administration ease pressure on immigration, as high numbers of crossings are expected to continue throughout the summer.
The White House and CDC did not immediately respond when asked for comment.
Most border and immigration experts do not believe that Title 42 in itself was an effective border management tool, and its effectiveness as a public health policy was broadly questioned from its inception.
Still, Title 42 took on new life as the left called on the Biden administration to rescind the policy and the right uplifted the policy as a proxy for a Trumpist vision of border control.
Friday’s ruling by Summerhays was widely expected, and will likely maintain Title 42 in place until well after November’s midterm elections.
While that action alone is unlikely to be enough to redraw the battle lines on one of the election’s core issues, it will give the Biden administration some leeway to enforce Title 42 selectively without the option to fully lift the policy.
Over the policy’s two-year lifespan, more than half of which has been managed by the Biden administration, the policy has been primarily used to quickly expel Mexican, Guatemalan, Honduran, Salvadoran and Ecuadorian single men.
In 2020, a federal judge blocked the Trump administration from using the policy to expel unaccompanied children, and the Biden administration has been reducing its usage against family units after initially taking a more aggressive approach in early 2021.
The Biden administration also exempted Ukrainians from Title 42, allowing more than 20,000 migrants from the war-torn nation to apply for asylum in April.