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Biden Bid to Lift Pandemic Border Restrictions Halted (1)

April 27, 2022, 9:52 PMUpdated: April 27, 2022, 10:33 PM

A federal judge temporarily blocked the Biden administration on Wednesday from ending Title 42, a pandemic-related rule that has allowed U.S. officials to turn away asylum-seekers and other migrants at the border.

The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana granted a request from a multistate coalition to issue a temporary restraining order which bars the Department of Homeland Security from reducing its reliance on Title 42 for the next two weeks. The order notes, however, that DHS retains its case-by-case discretion over migrants’ cases.

Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which invoked Title 42 in 2020, announced that it would terminate the policy on May 23.

Republicans and some Democrats have attacked the move as a threat to border security. The DHS expects to see more migrant arrivals when Title 42 lifts.

The decision to end Title 42 sparked a legal and political firestorm including a lawsuit filed by states challenging the termination order.

The plaintiff states are likely to succeed on their claims that the Biden administration’s termination order wasn’t issued in compliance with the Administrative Procedures Act, Judge Robert R. Summerhays wrote.

And they have established a substantial threat of immediate and irreparable injury including “unrecoverable costs on healthcare, law enforcement, detention, education, and other services for migrants,” Summerhays said. “The balance of harms and the public interest both favor issuance of a temporary restraining order.”

DHS had already started shifting to traditional immigration laws for processing and deporting some migrants in recent weeks, in anticipation of Title 42’s end. States argued that the shift was premature, with the policy still in place at least until May 23.

Louisiana, Arizona, Missouri, West Virginia, South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi, Wyoming, Georgia, Alabama, Alaska, Utah, Tennessee, Ohio, Idaho, Arkansas, Nebraska, Montana, Oklahoma, Kentucky, and Kansas joined the coalition challenging the termination order.

The case is Louisiana v. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, W.D. La., No. 6:22-cv-00885, 4/27/22.

(Updated with details from judge's order)

To contact the reporters on this story: Maeve Allsup in San Francisco at mallsup@bloomberglaw.com; Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Meghashyam Mali at mmali@bloombergindustry.com