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Federal judge will temporarily block Biden administration from ending Title 42 border policy

Paul Ratje for KERA News

A federal judge on Monday said he will temporarily block the Biden administration’s efforts to end Title 42, a health-based policy that allows for the immediate expulsion of asylum seekers and other migrants at the southern border.

Louisiana-based U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays said in a notice dated Monday that he intended to grant a temporary restraining order to halt the end of the program, CNN reported Monday afternoon. The Biden administration was planning to end the policy on May 23.

The notice comes in response to a lawsuit filed by more than 20 states, including Louisiana and Arizona. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a separate lawsuit last week in federal district court in Victoria, which hasn’t been decided. It’s unclear how Summerhays’ decision Monday will affect the Texas case.

Title 42 was implemented by the Trump administration in March 2020 as what he said was an attempt to curb the spread of COVID-19. Nearly 2 million migrants, including asylum seekers who have the legal right to seek protection in the United States under current law, have been turned away at the southern border under the policy, according to the Migration Policy Institute. Despite pressure from some Democrats and immigrant rights groups, the Biden Administration kept the policy in place for more than a year before trying to wind the program down. The policy was amended in March to exclude unaccompanied minors.

Texas has been the busiest among all border states for unauthorized crossings, according to the latest data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection. In March, United States Border Patrol agents in the Rio Grande Valley and Del Rio sectors encountered about 44,000 and 41,600 migrants respectively, according to CBP statistics. That was followed by the Yuma and Tucson sectors with about 29,700 and 27,200 encounters. The El Paso sector, which also includes New Mexico, saw about 25,600 encounters.

In all, agents encountered more than 221,000 unauthorized migrants at the southern border in March, a 33% increase compared to February. About half were expelled under Title 42, CBP said.

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Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at jaguilar@kera.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar.

Copyright 2022 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

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