NEW ORLEANS — Epidemic restrictions on migrants seeking asylum at the southern border must continue, a judge ruled Friday blocking the Biden administration’s plan to lift them early next week.
The ruling was the latest example of the court derailing the president’s proposed immigration policies along the US border with Mexico.
The Justice Department said the administration would appeal, but the ruling virtually ensured that restrictions would not end as planned on Monday. The delay would be a blow to advocates who say asylum rights are being trampled on, and a relief to some Democrats who fear a widely projected increase in illegal crossings will put them in an already difficult midterm election year. Will put me on the defensive.
In Tijuana, Mexico, 34-year-old Yeshivat Evangelina Aguilar covered her face in her hands and cried when she learned of the decision from an Associated Press reporter. “I think there’s no hope left now,” said Aguilar, who fled the Mexican state of Guerrero nearly a year ago after the murder of her brother. “feel so bad.”
Aguilar was blocked by US officials from applying for asylum when she and her 10-year-old daughter went to the Tijuana-San Diego port of entry nine months ago. On Friday, she lay in a tent at the Tijuana shelter where several migrants had camped. Some have been there for months or even years. Aguilar’s life in waiting has been not only exhausting but dangerous. On Thursday night, a fellow migrant died of a stray bullet in his neck in firing outside the shelter.
Migrants have been expelled more than 1.9 million times since March 2020 under Title 42, a public health provision that prevents them from requesting asylum under US law and international treaty based on preventing the spread of COVID-19. denies.
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhage in Lafayette, Louisiana ordered that the restrictions remain in place, while a lawsuit led by Arizona and Louisiana — and now joined by 22 other states — plays out in court.
Somerhays sided with the states in the ruling that President Joe Biden’s administration failed to follow the administrative procedures that required public notice and time to gather public comment on plans to end sanctions. And he said states have made the case that they will suffer if the restrictions end.
The judge cited that what he said was the government’s own predictions that phasing out the restrictions would triple the crossing the border, to 18,000 a day. This, he said, would result in more migrants being processed in mass settings where infectious disease can spread. “The record also includes evidence supporting the position of plaintiff states that such an increase in cross-border health care reimbursement and education services would increase their costs. These costs are not recoverable,” Somerhays wrote.
The White House said it disagreed with the decision, but would comply as long as it is appealed. “The Centers for Disease Control should have the authority to determine public health policy at the national level, not a single district court,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
The case goes before the 5th US Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, which has ruled against key Biden administration policies in the past. The court is dominated by Republican candidates, including six nominated by former President Donald Trump, who also appointed Summerhays.
Title 42 largely affects the people of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, many of whom are waiting in Mexican border towns after being denied the right to seek asylum by the US government. Mexico has agreed to accept migrants from three Central American countries that the US had turned back and also began taking in limited numbers of Cubans and Nicaragua last month.
About 15 migrants crossed the Rio Grande at Eagle Pass, Texas, in waist-deep water after the ruling Friday. They included Nicaraguans who were unaware of Title 42 and who were pleased that the people of their country were generally spared from the policy.
“Thank God we have that advantage,” said 25-year-old Mayor Zuniga, smiling as he waited under an international bridge to Piedras Negras, Mexico, for Border Patrol agents to arrive.
Title 42 is the second major Trump-era policy to block asylum on the Mexican border that was closed by Biden, only to be revived by a Trump-appointed judge.
An American Civil Liberties Union attorney scoffed at the decision.
“Title 42 can only be used for public health purposes, but the states that brought this suit only care about COVID restrictions when they include asylum seekers and to manage limits.” We’re using the case as a transparent effort,” Lee Gellert said. , “That hypocrisy should not be rewarded.”
Rape. Raul Ruiz, a Democrat from California and chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, said the ruling is “outrageous, ridiculous, and destroys our asylum system.”
Republican members of Congress applauded the decision.
“The courts are doing it right again,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican.
Even some in Biden’s party backed the ban on the pandemic.
“Today’s decision does not change the fact that there is a crisis at the border and there must be a detailed plan that can be implemented before Title 42 is removed,” said Sen. Mark Kelly, an Arizona Democrat who is facing a tough reelection challenge. is facing. ,
Last month, the US Supreme Court heard arguments on whether to allow the administration to force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for a hearing in the US Immigration Court. In that case, the challenge to the policy, known as “Stay in Mexico”, originated in Amarillo, Texas. It was reinstated in December on a judge’s order and remains in effect until the trial goes on.
Spaget reported from Eagle Pass, Texas. Associated Press reporters Julie Watson in Tijuana, Mexico, and Alan Fram and Mike Balsamo in Washington contributed to this report.