Louisiana federal judge refuses to end COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on migrants seeking asylum in the US
The ruling is just the latest case by a court derailing the president’s planned immigration policy along the US-Mexico border.
While the administration can appeal, the ruling increases the likelihood that restrictions will not end on Monday as planned. A delay would be a blow to advocates who say the right to asylum is being trampled on and a relief to some Democrats who fear a widely expected increase in illegal crossings would put them on the defensive in an already difficult election year.
Migrants have been deported more than 1.9 million times since March 2020 under Title 42, a public health provision that denies them the ability to seek asylum under US law and international treaties to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
US District Judge Robert Summerhays in Lafayette, Louisiana, ordered the restrictions to remain in place while a lawsuit led by Arizona and Louisiana – now joined by 22 other states – is fought in court.
States argued that the government had not adequately considered the public health and law enforcement implications of lifting restrictions. Drew Ensign, an Arizona state attorney, argued at a hearing that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had failed to follow administrative procedures, which required public notice and time to solicit public comment.
Jean Lin, a Justice Department attorney, told the judge that the CDC had the authority to lift an emergency health restriction that it said was no longer necessary. She said the order was a health policy issue, not immigration.
Summerhays, who was appointed by President Donald Trump, had already ruled in favor of states by halting efforts to end the application of the pandemic rule. He said last month that an exit would burden states with “unrecoverable costs for health care, law enforcement, incarceration, education and other services.”
Title 42 is the second major Trump-era policy deterring asylum at the Mexican border, jettisoned by President Joe Biden, only to be revived by a Trump-appointed judge.
Last month the US Supreme Court heard arguments over whether the government should allow the government to force asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for hearings before a US immigration court. This case, which challenged a policy known as “stay in Mexico,” originated in Amarillo, Texas. It was reinstated by judge’s order in December and remains in effect as the legal battle continues.
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https://abc13.com/covid-19-restrictions-us-mexico-border-asylum/11874948/ Louisiana federal judge refuses to end COVID-19 pandemic restrictions on migrants seeking asylum in the US