President Joe Biden’s administration on Monday extended a Trump-era border restriction that started during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Title 42 order was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last year, enabling government workers to immediately kick out anyone captured crossing the border illegally without a hearing.
The order has been largely backed by the Biden administration, and on Monday the CDC’s director announced its continuation.
“This order was issued on August 2, 2021 and shall remain in effect until the CDC Director determines that the danger of further introduction of COVID-19 into the United States from covered noncitizens has ceased to be a serious danger to the public health, and the Order is no longer necessary to protect the public health,” the public health agency said in a statement.
Earlier Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki, when asked whether Biden sees Title 42 as a Trump-era policy, told reporters in Washington that Biden views it as a public health measure.
The CDC will provide guidance on how long it needs to be in place, she said.
“We have not given a timeline of when we will, they will lift Title 42, but we will look for them to provide us that guidance,” she said.
The government was hit in January with a lawsuit over Title 42 when Trump was still in office.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs, three families who illegally entered the United States, attempted to hammer out a compromise with the government after filing the suit, but weeks of negotiations reached a stalemate, the parties said in a court filing on Monday.
“The parties’ discussions attempting to resolve or narrow the dispute in this case have reached an impasse,” the filing stated. “The parties therefore seek to resume litigation on Plaintiffs’ motions for class certification and classwide preliminary injunction.”
Plaintiff lawyers said in the suit that the families, who were expelled under Title 42, “were entitled to assert claims for asylum and related forms of humanitarian protection, and to procedures Congress established to ensure the fair determination of their right to remain in the United States,” according to the Jan. 12 complaint.
With the impasse in negotiations, the parties are asking the judge to move forward with the case and ultimately rule on whether to block the Biden administration from using the Trump-era policy.
“We gave the Biden administration more than enough time to fix any problems left behind by the Trump administration, but it has left us no choice but to return to court. Families’ lives are at stake,” Lee Gelernt, an American Civil Liberties Union lawyer, and the lead attorney on the case, said in a statement on Monday.
“The Biden administration knows full well that maintaining Title 42 won’t stop the spread of COVID or prevent people who are literally fleeing for their lives from seeking safety in the U.S.,” added Noah Gottschalf, global policy lead for Oxfam America. “The administration is choosing to treat refugees like political pawns, and so we are eager to return to court so we can end Title 42 for families once and for all.”
After entering office on January 20, Biden rolled back a number of Trump-era border restrictions. Since then, the number of illegal border crossings have skyrocketed to highs not seen in decades.
The Biden administration stopped using Title 42 powers to expel unaccompanied minors—illegal immigrant children who arrive without responsible adults—but still use it to expel single adults and family units.
The administration used Title 42 to expel 104,907 people in June alone.
Reports indicated recently that the Biden administration was mulling rolling back Title 42 even more, but Psaki told reporters last week that the administration “will maintain existing travel restrictions at this point for a few reasons.”
“The more transmissible Delta variant is spreading both here and around the world. Driven by the Delta variant, cases are rising here at home, particularly among those who are unvaccinated and appear likely to continue in the weeks ahead,” she said.
She was referring to a strain of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, which causes COVID-19.
Mark Krikorian, executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies, said on Twitter, “I wouldn’t say the Biden gang are pleased at the covid flare-up—they’re not monsters—but it has the silver lining of allowing them to defer the termination of Title 42 expulsions at the border, which would make the border situation even more politically explosive.”