A federal judge on Monday granted a temporary restraining order to stop the Biden administration from lifting the controversial Title 42 health authority that was put in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 across international borders.
The decision – which stemmed from a lawsuit originally filed by Missouri, Arizona and Louisiana in the latter’s U.S. District Court – was hailed as a “huge victory for border security” by Missouri attorney general Eric Schmitt.
The Trump-era border policy allows U.S. authorities to quickly expel migrants seeking asylum without a chance to seek asylum.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced weeks ago that it would lift the asylum ban next month. The ban had become increasingly hard to justify as pandemic restrictions ended around the country.
The decision to end Title 42 authority, named for a 1944 public health law, was challenged by nearly two dozen Republican-led states and faces growing division within Biden’s Democratic Party.
The limits went into place in March 2020 under the Trump administration as coronavirus cases soared. While officials said at the time that it was a way to keep COVID-19 out of the United States, there always has been criticism that the restrictions were used as an excuse to seal the border to migrants unwanted by then-President Donald Trump.
Many Democrats and immigration advocates viewed the policy as nothing more than an excuse for the United States to avoid its moral and legal obligation to offer safe haven to asylum-seekers at the border.
By delaying the end of Title 42 for nearly two months, Biden appeared to be seeking a political balance between liberals who want the policy scrapped and moderates who have joined Republicans in supporting continued restrictions. He may end up satisfying neither.
The expected influx of migrants could create a political damaging crisis for Biden with the the November midterm elections approaching. That debate will probably hinge more on partisanship than facts.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.