By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) – A federal judge in Louisiana on Friday stopped the Biden administration from revoking Title 42, a public health authority that allows illegal immigrants to be quickly deported during a health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic.
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in the Western District of Louisiana issued the order in a case filed by the attorneys general of Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri. The case later grew to 21 states. Texas also filed a separate lawsuit in a federal court in Texas. The attorneys general argue ending Title 42 violates federal law and places an unfair financial burden on the states.
The administration announced it was ending Title 42 effective Monday, May 23, and estimated that roughly 18,000 people would enter the U.S. illegally a day once it was lifted.
In response to the judge’s ruling, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said, “I’m so proud of the lawyers from our office who just got our Temporary Restraining Order to keep Title 42 in place. We will continue to fight the Biden administration’s open border policies.
“Title 42 is one of the last tools we have left in our toolbox to stop an even greater flood of illegal immigration into our country,” he said. “While this is a good win, we gotta keep fighting. I’m going to do everything I can to stop the overreach of the Biden administration; and make sure that we enforce our immigration laws and … do everything we can to protect American taxpayers.”
The Biden administration later Friday said it disagreed with the ruling and would appeal it. “The authority to set public health policy nationally should rest with the Centers for Disease Control, not with a single district court,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement. However, in compliance with the court’s injunction, the administration will enforce Title 42, she said. “This means that migrants who attempt to enter the United States unlawfully will be subject to expulsion under Title 42, as well as immigration consequences such as removal under Title 8.
“As the appeal proceeds, the Department of Homeland Security will continue planning for the eventual lifting of Title 42 in the light of CDC’s public health judgment, at which point anyone who attempts to enter the country unlawfully will be subject to Title 8 Expedited Removal proceedings, if they do not have grounds to remain in the United States.”
The lawsuit that led to Friday’s ruling is one of many filed by Mr. Brnovich and other attorneys general in response to the Biden administration’s open border policies. Since President Joe Biden took office, an estimated 2.5 million people have entered the U.S. illegally even with Title 42 in place.
Due to widespread nonenforcement of immigration laws by the administration, the number of people entering illegally continues to break new records nearly every month.
Last month, more than 234,000 people were encountered entering the U.S. illegally, the greatest number in a single month in recorded U.S. history. That’s a 1,376% increase from the 17,106 encounters reported in April 2020 under the Trump administration.
These numbers exclude at least one million who’ve entered the U.S. illegally and evaded capture, known as “got aways,” according to estimates previously reported on by The Center Square. Last month, there were between 58,000 and 71,000 got aways recorded by Border Patrol, numbers that aren’t published publicly.
At a news conference in the Rio Grande Valley this week, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas maintained that ending Title 42 wouldn’t “mean the border is open on May 23,” KHOU 11 News Houston reported. “We continue to enforce the laws of this country,” he said. “We continue to remove individuals who do not qualify for relief under the laws of this country.”
Deportation was down last year by 70%, and at least 1.2 million people with deportation orders remain in the U.S. and haven’t been deported. Mr. Mayorkas has begun gutting Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation units across the country, according to recently retired ICE officials and law enforcement officers who’ve reached out to The Center Square. Last fall, Mr. Mayorkas also instituted widespread immigration policy changes, including declaring that being in the U.S. illegally isn’t a crime, even though federal law says it is.
Mr. Mayorkas has also radically altered the asylum process by granting administrative personnel judicial authority to adjudicate claims when Congress has only authorized judges to do so. Fourteen attorneys general, also led by Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri, sued over this policy, hoping to halt it.
“Right now, immigration judges who are suffering a 1.6 or 1.7 million case workload, now they have exclusive jurisdiction,” Mr. Mayorkas said. “We are giving the asylum officers that jurisdiction. That is going to take what is now on average a six-to-eight-year-plus process between the time of encounter and the time of ultimate asylum adjudication to under a year.”
In the meantime, the attorneys general said they will take the win handed to them on Friday.
“Once again, the courts rule against Joe Biden’s lawless agenda,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said. “Title 42 is one of the last remaining protections we have from a deluge of illegals coming across our border. I am glad for our state and our nation that It will remain in place.”
The administration will appeal the ruling, and the matter is likely to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.