McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Missouri’s attorney general said Monday afternoon that a federal judge has agreed to issue a temporary restraining order in a lawsuit brought by Missouri, Louisiana and Arizona that will keep Title 42 in place on the border next month.
However, no details have been released by the court. And specifics on how this will affect the Biden administration’s plans to end Title 42 were not immediately known, legal experts told Border Report.
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt tweeted Monday afternoon “this is a huge victory for border security, but the fight continues on.”
On April 3, the three states sued the Biden administration in the Western District Court of Louisiana to force the Biden administration to keep Title 42.
The Biden administration has said it will repeal Title 42 on May 23. The 1940s public health law was re-implemented by the Trump administration in March 2020 to help prevent the spread of coronavirus across land borders the U.S. shares with Mexico and Canada.
The lawsuit asks the court to keep Title 42 in place until it conducts the required notice and comment period necessary under the Administrative Procedure Act “and adopts a policy that is not arbitrary and capricious.”
On Monday afternoon in court, a federal judge said he was inclined to issue the TRO “but he needed to give the parties time to work it out so what that means is not clear,” Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, senior policy counsel for the American Immigration Council, told Border Report Monday.
Regardless, the judge’s order in effect halted the Biden administration from revoking Title 42.
“Practically speaking this prevents the Biden administration from beginning to phase out Title 42,” said Reichlin-Melnick, who on April 6 testified before the House Homeland Security Subcommittee arguing for leaders in Washington, D.C., to revoke Title 42.
He told Border Report that the argument that caused this TRO to be filed was that the Department of Homeland Security had begun deporting more people back to their home countries under Title 8, and that prompted Louisiana to complain that DHS should not deport under Title 8, but must continue expelling people back to Mexico under Title 42.
He said that since the Biden administration announced a repeal of Title 42, DHS had begun the process of deporting some single adults from El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala into Title 8, or expedited removal proceedings.
In announcing an end to Title 42, Homeland Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said the administration would continue to utilize Title 8 to expel migrants who do not qualify to remain in the United States.
Mayorkas and President Joe Biden are named in the lawsuit as are the leaders of the following federal agencies: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued Title 42; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; U.S. Department of Homeland Security; U,.S. Customs and Border Protection; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement; U.S. Citizenship and Immigration, the U.S. Border Patrol, and the Justice Department.
Border leaders have had mixed reactions to Title 42 being lifted.
U.S. Reps. Henry Cuellar and Vicente Gonzalez, Democrats who represent South Texas, have warned that if Title 42 is lifted, upwards of 10,000 migrants who are waiting south of the Rio Grande could surge across.
But on Monday, Mayor Regina Romero of Tucson, Arizona, and Mayor Trey Mendez of Brownsville, Texas, issued a joint statement supporting the end of Title 42, which they said will “uphold our legal and moral obligation of providing the fundamental right to seek asylum. It is the smart thing to do and it is the right thing to do. A fair and humane immigration system should be a priority for all of our leaders, not just those such as us who see the effects of a broken system every day.”
RAICES, a migrant nonprofit organization, tweeted Monday the TRO is “beyond infuriating. The anti-immigrant right-wing judicial pipeline continues to fly forward unchecked and immigrants seeking safety and asserting their legal right to asylum will continue to pay the price.”
The state of Texas on Friday filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration in the Southern District of Texas, seeking to keep Title 42 in place.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at Ssanchez@borderreport.com