A judge from the US state of Louisiana ordered on Friday (local time) that the regulation, which President Joe Biden’s government plans should have expired next Monday, initially remains in force. The legal dispute over the controversial regulation is not yet settled: the US Department of Justice immediately announced that it would appeal the judge’s decision, arguing that it was no longer justified in view of the current pandemic situation to maintain the restriction.
The regulation of the US health agency CDC, known as “Title 42”, enables the authorities to quickly deport most migrants who have entered the country illegally, citing pandemic-related health risks. According to the border protection agency CBP, around 95,000 people were deported on this basis in April alone. In the previous months, the figures were of a similar magnitude.
The regulation was put into effect under the then President Donald Trump at the beginning of the corona pandemic and was used to largely seal off the borders. Under Trump’s successor Biden, the regulation was initially only suspended for unaccompanied minors. The CDC finally announced at the end of March that it would be abolished entirely with effect from May 23.
Human rights organizations had called for an end to the restrictions and accused the government of using the pandemic as an excuse to blanketly deport people without adequate scrutiny and court hearings. More than 20 states had opposed the abolition of the regulation in court, arguing, among other things, that lifting the requirement would lead to a large influx of illegal migrants.
Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey welcomed the judge’s decision, writing on Twitter: “The federal court stepped in to protect our nation when the Biden administration failed to do so.” Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott complained that Biden was pursuing an “open borders policy” and thereby ignoring federal law.
The White House said the government did not agree with the decision, but would abide by the decision and continue to make preparations for an end to Title 42.