by Kevin McGill
NEW ORLEANS ( Associated Press) — A federal judge on Wednesday ordered a two-week pause on a phased lifting of pandemic-related restrictions on asylum-seeking — and the Biden administration’s plan to fully lift those restrictions on May 23. doubted about.
For now, the decision is only a temporary setback for the administration. But the judge struck a position highly sympathetic to Louisiana, Arizona and 19 other states that sued to preserve the so-called Title 42 authority, which allows migrants to stop the spread of COVID-19, on tge grounds. Denies the chance of asylum.
U.S. District Judge Robert Somerhays wrote, “(States) have established a substantial risk of immediate and irreparable injury as a result of the early implementation of Title 42, which includes unreachable effects on health care, law enforcement, custody, education and other services for migrants.” cost is involved.” in Lafayette, Louisiana.
Somerhays, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, said states were likely to succeed with his argument that the administration had failed to follow federal procedures when it announced on April 1 that it would remove the Title 42 authority. ending.
The judge has scheduled an important hearing in Lafayette on May 13 to decide whether to prevent Title 42 from ending as planned after 10 days.
Texas filed a similar lawsuit Friday in federal court in Victoria, Texas.
The decision to end Title 42 authorization was made by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It comes under increasing criticism from elected officials in Biden’s Democratic Party, which the administration argues is not prepared for the anticipated increase in asylum seekers.
The Justice Department declined to comment on the order, but the administration has said it will comply, arguing it would hinder preparations for Title 42, which expires on May 23.
About 14% of single adults in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were processed under immigration laws during the seven-day period ended last Thursday. According to government data, it is just over 5% in March.
Somerhaise’s order requires the Department of Homeland Security to “return to policies and practices” before announcing plans to abolish Title 42 and to submit weekly reports that demonstrate it is “in good faith”. is working.
Migrants have been expelled more than 1.8 million times under the rule implemented by the Trump administration in March 2020. More than 221,000 migrants were stopped at the Mexico border in March, a 22-year high that has raised concerns about the government’s ability to handle even larger numbers if Title 42 is removed.
Advocates for asylum seekers say the sanctions put people at risk of going back home from persecution and violate their rights to seek protection under US law and international treaty. As acknowledged by the CDC, the public health justification for the order has weakened as the threat of COVID-19 has waned.
In two often-controversial hearings on Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Meyercas sought to defend the administration’s handling of a surge of migrants at the southwest border and its plans to deal with the potential end of Title 42 and more .
Meyerkas sought to back down on Republican allegations that the Biden administration encouraged irregular migration by allowing some people to seek asylum, blaming economic and political upheaval and violence throughout Latin America and the world.
“Some of the reasons for the irregular migration are only exacerbated by the crisis of the years prior to this administration,” he said.
Meyerkas testified a day after Homeland Security released a plan about how it was preparing for the end of Title 42 authorization.
Associated Press reporter Ben Fox in Washington contributed to this story.