White House Asks SCOTUS to Lift Trump-Era Border Policy

High court had previously temporarily blocked the lifting of the asylum restrictions
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Dec 20, 2022 1:24 AM CST
Updated Dec 21, 2022 12:04 AM CST
Supreme Court Temporarily Blocks Lifting of Trump-Era Border Policy
Migrants walk towards the U.S.-Mexico border in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, Monday, Dec. 19, 2022. Pandemic-era immigration restrictions in the U.S. known as Title 42 are set to expire on Dec. 21.   (AP Photo/Christian Chavez)
UPDATE Dec 21, 2022 12:04 AM CST

The Biden administration on Tuesday asked the Supreme Court to lift Trump-era asylum restrictions—but not necessarily on Wednesday, when they were originally set to expire before the high court temporarily blocked that from happening. A coalition of conservative states is seeking to keep the Title 42 border policy in place. In its filing Tuesday responding to that coalition's argument, the Department of Justice requested, per Axios, that, "if the Court denies the application before December 23, it leave the current administrative stay in place until 11:59pm on December 27." The government says, per USA Today, "That brief continuation would allow the government to again prepare for a full return to operations." SCOTUSblog has more on the issue here.

Dec 20, 2022 1:24 AM CST

The Supreme Court is temporarily blocking an order that would lift pandemic-era restrictions on asylum seekers but the brief order leaves open the prospect that the restrictions in place since the coronavirus pandemic began and have been used to turn back hundreds of thousands of prospective asylum seekers could still expire on Wednesday. The court's decision comes as officials and aid groups along the border are trying to prepare for whatever changes may or may not come Wednesday, the AP reports. In the city of El Paso, Mayor Oscar Leeser said they've received information from Border Patrol and shelters just across the border in Mexico indicating that up to 20,000 migrants might be waiting to cross into El Paso. The Red Cross has brought 10,000 cots to help with the increase, he said.

The order Monday by Chief Justice John Roberts—who handles emergency matters that come from federal courts in the nation’s capital—comes as conservative states are pushing to keep the limits on asylum seekers that were put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. The states appealed to the US Supreme Court in a last-ditch effort before the restrictions are set to expire, saying that lifting the limits on asylum seekers would cause irreparable harm to their states. In the one-page order, Roberts granted a stay pending further order and asked the government to respond by 5pm Tuesday. That is just hours before the restrictions are slated to expire on Wednesday.

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Immigration advocates have said that the use of Title 42 goes against American and international obligations to people fleeing to the US to escape persecution. And they’ve argued that things like vaccines and treatments for the coronavirus have made the policy outdated. They sued to end the use of Title 42; a federal judge in November sided with them and set the December 21 deadline. In a statement late Monday the Department of Homeland Security, which is responsible for enforcing border security, said that "while this stage of the litigation proceeds, we will continue our preparations to manage the border in a safe, orderly, and humane way when the Title 42 public health order lifts."

(Read more asylum stories.)

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