Since taking office, President Joe Biden’s administration has continued to rely on Title 42, a public health authority invoked at the start of the coronavirus pandemic that allows border officials to turn back migrants at the border. Mexican-American.
But with days to go until Title 42 ends this month, Western Louisiana District Court Judge Robert Summerhays found the Biden administration failed to follow the correct procedures to end the authority and argued that even if the administration could invoke action under emergency conditions, these may not apply with respect to its termination.
“Put simply, the CDC has not explained how current circumstances prevented it from issuing the termination order through the notice and comment process required under the APA,” Summerhays wrote. , referring to the Administrative Procedure Act.
Termination of Title 42, the judge concluded, is not exempt from the notice and comment process, which can potentially take months. The public health authority, which has been heavily criticized by immigrant advocates, will remain in effect for the time being.
Lee Gelernt, an ACLU attorney leading the Title 42 lawsuit in Washington, DC, called the decision “wrong.”
“The decision is flawed, inconsistent with the considered judgment of the CDC, and should be immediately appealed by the administration. The lawsuit is the height of hypocrisy; the states that brought it only seem to want COVID restrictions in regarding asylum seekers,” he said in a statement.
“Notwithstanding this injunction, a parallel DC injunction prohibits the use of Title 42 to evict families who would be at risk of persecution or torture,” Gelernt added.
Justice Department spokesman Anthony Coley said Friday the department intended to appeal the decision.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has invoked its authority under Title 42 because of the unprecedented dangers to public health caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The CDC has now determined, in its notice of expert, that continued reliance on this authority is no longer warranted in light of current public health circumstances. This decision was a lawful exercise of CDC authority,” Coley said in a statement.
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration disagreed with the decision, but would “continue to enforce Title 42 public health authority. CDC in 2020 pending appeal”.
In the meantime, she said, the Department of Homeland Security “will continue to plan for the eventual lifting of Title 42 in light of the CDC’s public health judgment.”
The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri in April against the Biden administration’s decision to end Title 42. More than a dozen states, mostly led by the GOP, then joined the chase.
Migrants encountered under Title 42 are either deported to their countries of origin or to Mexico, where human rights defenders say they have documented numerous abuses.
This story was updated with additional details on Friday.