EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) – News that the U.S. Supreme Court is letting Title 42 stay in place – possibly through June – elicited swift and passionate reaction from both sides of the immigration debate. Some welcomed what they see as the salvage of a last line of defense against illegal immigration. Others condemned what they say is the practice of expelling people fleeing poverty or oppression based on an obsolete public health emergency rule.

Both sides called for a permanent solution to illegal immigration in the form of new laws Congress needs to pass.

“The (Court’s) decision today to temporarily extend this policy will spare border communities from being thrown into complete chaos,” said U.S. Rep. Tony Gonzales, R-Texas. “During this extension, it is critical for this administration to enforce Title 42 while working with Congress on long-term solutions for border management and security.”

The Department of Homeland Security said it would continue to apply Title 42 to migrants that border agents determine have no legal basis to remain in the country.

“Title 42 has been used — for years now — as a substitute for the badly needed reform to our broken immigration policy,” U.S. Rep. Veronica Escobar, D-Texas, said on social media. “Congress must act and immediately prioritize fixing our outdated laws in addition to investing in and reforming our processes at the border. […] It’s time for our Republican colleagues to meet us at the negotiating table. Doing more of the same — treating immigration as a border-only issue — and expecting a different outcome is the definition of insanity.”

Critics say Title 42, a Trump-era measure to stop cross-border spread of COVID-19, is denying asylum seekers their lawful right to apply for asylum at ports of entry. Most asylum seekers are crossing the border illegally, surrendering to border agents and only after apprehension allowed to express their intent.

“Seeking asylum is a human right. This is a disastrous order by the Supreme Court,” said U.S. Rep. Chuy Garcia, D-Illinois. “Title 42 is a cruel policy that was implemented using public health as an excuse. This extension of the policy until next June will put more asylum seekers in harm’s way.”

He was referring to the migrants either having to place their lives in the hands of smugglers who control the Mexican side of the border, as well as those that must endure hunger, squalor and crime in Mexico after being turned back.

Immigrant advocates also decried the latest stay.

“Title 42 is an enabler, an illegal use of a public health tool for the administration and Congress to punt on real reform at the border,” said Dylan Corbett, executive director of El Paso’s Hope Border Institute. “This decision will put lives in danger, lead to increased irregular crossings and incentivize smuggling, trafficking and violence against migrants. It will extend the bottleneck at the border, create unsustainable pressure on border enforcement and lead to more death.”