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More Than 20 States Press Judge to Continue Migrant Expulsions

LAFAYETTE, La. — Lawyers for 24 states critical of the Biden administration’s immigration policies argued on Friday for a nationwide injunction to maintain the swift expulsions of migrants under a pandemic-related public policy, and a federal judge said he planned to issue an order before the policy is set to be rescinded on May 23.

Judge Robert R. Summerhays of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana did not say how he would rule, but he has previously been supportive of the arguments brought by the 24 mostly Republican-led states to force the measure, known as Title 42, to remain in place.

Scott St. John, Louisiana’s deputy solicitor general, said after the hearing that he was “confident” based on the judge’s comments during the hearing that the states that had sued were “in a good position.”

Mary Yanik, a lawyer for the Tulane Immigration Rights Clinic, said that Judge Summerhays’s posture appeared consistent throughout the more than two-hour hearing in Lafayette, La.

“The judge seemed skeptical that this is a purely public health order,” she said. “And he does not seem convinced that the federal government can ignore immigration consequences.”

Most of the principal lawyers in the case declined to comment after the arguments.

At stake is whether the Biden administration can proceed with its announced plans to lift Title 42, given the recent easing of the coronavirus pandemic, a move that would allow thousands of migrants a day who currently are being turned away to instead enter the country and submit claims for asylum.

The Department of Homeland Security has said that it was preparing for the possibility that 18,000 migrants would show up daily, once the measure is lifted, compared with 8,000 currently. State leaders who filed the lawsuit said local officials are unprepared for such an influx at a time when migration on the southern border already is reaching record levels.

Read More About U.S. Immigration

A New Wave: Cuban migrants are arriving to the United States in the highest numbers in four decades, as the conditions on the island grow more desperate.Documented Youths: Children of temporary visa holders risk losing their legal status in the United States when they turn 21. Some are joining calls for an immigration overhaul.At the Border: Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas has pursued an expensive effort to stop the flow of migrants. As results fail to show, he is weighing more radical measures.QAnon Vigilantes: Armed civilians, motivated by an unfounded conspiracy theory that migrant children are falling prey to sex-trafficking rings, have been intercepting minors at the border.Critical Incident Teams: The Biden administration will disband the U.S. Border Patrol’s secretive teams, after their role in inquiries into agent misconduct came under scrutiny.About 2 million people have been expelled since March 2020 under the order, many of whom would have otherwise been admitted to the United States for an evaluation of their asylum claims or placed into deportation proceedings. Those processes often take months or years.

The judge has already issued a temporary restraining order, renewed this week, prohibiting the government from taking steps to unwind the policy before he rules on the case.

ImageHomeland Security officials have said they were preparing for as many as 18,000 migrants a day after Title 42 expires, while most predictions hover around 12,000. Credit...Callaghan O'Hare for The New York TimesThe arguments offered by both sides at Friday’s hearing centered around whether Title 42 was a public health policy or an immigration policy. Lawyers for the federal government continued to argue that the policy was narrowly limited to protecting against coronavirus transmission while lawyers for the states that sued listed the costs that states would bear if Title 42 were lifted — to health care systems, law enforcement, education, social services, and even agencies that would be issuing more drivers’ licenses.

The Biden administration has said its plans to lift the measure were based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s announcement on April 1 that it was no longer needed given the widespread availability of vaccines.

“The C.D.C. did exactly what an agency must do,” Jean Lin, a lawyer representing the federal government, told the judge, noting that the agency has reassessed virus conditions in the country every 60 days. Dealing with “downstream consequences of Title 42 is outside of the C.D.C.’s statutory authority,” she said.

The public health order has required the U.S. Border Patrol to turn away migrants who crossed land borders since March 2020, when it was introduced, without allowing them to request asylum, by either expelling them by bus to Mexico or by plane to their countries of origin

By: Katy Reckdahl and Miriam Jordan
Title: More Than 20 States Press Judge to Continue Migrant Expulsions
Sourced From: www.nytimes.com/2022/05/13/us/title-42-border-migrant-expulsions.html
Published Date: Fri, 13 May 2022 21:04:46 +0000

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