Supreme Court keeps Title 42 immigration policy alive; El Paso mayor declares state of emergency

Immigration, border
David McNew/Getty Images

The U.S. Supreme Court has put a stay on the termination of an immigration measure aimed at limiting the number of people who could seek asylum in the nation for medical reasons.

In a brief order released Monday, Chief Justice John Roberts ordered that a ruling against Title 42 from the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia be “stayed pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court.”

“It is further ordered that a response to the application be filed on or before Tuesday, December 20, 2022, by 5 p.m. (EST),” he added.

The stay comes as problems at the border regarding the large number of people entering the country illegally continue to put a strain on local municipalities. 

Oscar Leeser, the mayor of El Paso, Texas, recently announced that he was declaring a state of emergency in response to the border crisis and its impact on his city. 

Had Roberts not issued the order, the Title 42 measures would have expired on Wednesday per an order from U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan issued last month.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security issued a statement in response to the stay, explaining that “individuals who attempt to enter the United States unlawfully will continue to be expelled to Mexico.”

“While this stage of the litigation proceeds, we will continue our preparations to manage the border in a safe, orderly, and humane way when the Title 42 public health order lifts,” noted the department.

“We urge Congress to use this time to provide the funds we have requested for border security and management and advance the comprehensive immigration measures President Biden proposed on his first day in office.”

Title 42 is a part of the U.S. Code that allows the federal government to medically examine immigrants seeking asylum and deny them entry to prevent the spread of disease.

The measure was first used in 1929 to prevent ships from China and the Philippines from entering U.S. ports due to a meningitis outbreak, according to NBC News.

Then-President Donald Trump began using Title 42 in 2020 as a way to try and curb the spread of COVID-19 from the border, with an estimated 2 million people being deported as a result, reported NBC News.

In April, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention announced that it was planning to discontinue the Title 42 measures effective on May 23, having concluded that the “Order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the United States is no longer necessary.”

Later that month, U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays issued a temporary restraining order stopping the Biden administration from ending the Title 42 restrictions enacted by Trump.

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