by Photo courtesy of the U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed Title 42— a Trump-era immigration policy to prevent migrants from entering the United States on the basis of the COVID-19 pandemic—to remain in effect. 

The Supreme court extended a temporary stay that Chief Justice John Roberts issued last week. The case will be argued in February and the stay will be maintained until the justices decide the case. 

Former president Donald Trump placed these restrictions at the beginning of the pandemic, which has expelled asylum seekers inside the United States. Title 42 was a previously rarely-used clause of the 1944 Public Health Services Law. 

In a dissent, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Ketanji Brown Jackson said that even if the court were to find the states have the right to intervene and Title 42 was lawfully adopted “…. the emergency on which those orders were premised has long since lapsed.” They argued the “current border crisis is not a COVID crisis.”

“And courts should not be in the business of perpetuating administrative edicts designed for one emergency only because elected officials have failed to address a different emergency. We are a court of law, not policymakers of last resort,” the justices wrote.

In April 2022, the federal government terminated the Title 42 orders after determining that emergency immigration restrictions were no longer necessary or appropriate to address COVID–19. 

A federal judge in November set a Dec. 21 deadline to end the policy. Conservative states appealed to the Supreme court, warning “DHS’s prediction that termination of Title 42 “will result in an increase in daily border crossings and that this increase could be as large as a three-fold increase to 18,000 daily border crossings,” lawyers for the states wrote in an emergency application

Chief Justice John Roberts issued a stay to allow more time for the court to consider arguments. The federal government asked the Supreme Court to reject the states’ effort, but acknowledged that ending the restrictions abruptly would likely lead to “disruption and a temporary increase in unlawful border crossings.”

Title 42 has been used to deter migrants more than 2.5 million times. Despite that, a record 2.3 million migrants were encountered at the border in the fiscal year 2022, according to Customs and Border Protection.

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