The Biden administration must hold off plans to end pandemic-related border restrictions under a federal court decision that marks a legal victory for Republican state officials looking to tighten border security.
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana on Monday agreed to grant a request from a multistate coalition to temporarily preserve Title 42, a public health authority that has allowed U.S. officials to turn away migrants at the border during the Covid-19 pandemic. Details of the order haven’t been finalized. The court will continue to consider the broader legal issues of the border policy.
The judge made the decision verbally during a virtual status conference Monday. Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) said on Twitter the decision was a “huge victory for border security, but the fight continues on.”
The states asked the court to bar the Department of Homeland Security from shifting away from Title 42 expulsions while the policy is in place. DHS has started shifting to traditional immigration laws for processing and deportation of some migrants, according to a federal legal brief.
A docket notation says “the Court announced its intent to grant the motion. The parties will confer regarding the specific terms to be contained in the Temporary Restraining Order and attempt to reach agreement.”
The White House referred questions to the Justice Department, which declined to comment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which invoked Title 42 in 2020, announced last month that it would terminate the policy on May 23. Republicans and some Democrats blasted the decision as a risk to border security, with attempts by migrants to cross the border hitting records over the past year and likely to increase when restrictions are lifted.
Republican attorneys general in Arizona, Louisiana, and other states filed suit and said the CDC should have requested public input before ending the border restrictions. They’re asking the court to block the termination of Title 42.
Texas is waging a similar legal fight in federal court in that state. Members of Congress are exploring legislative options to keep Title 42 in place, and filed a friend-of-the-court brief in the Louisiana case supporting the states’ efforts to preserve the policy.
The case is Louisiana v. CDC, W.D. La., No. 6:22-cv-00885, 4/25/22.