US: Supreme Court upholds restrictions on asylum

WASHINGTON (HPD) — The U.S. Supreme Court will indefinitely uphold asylum limits that were imposed during the pandemic, dashing the hopes of immigration advocates who had been hoping they would be lifted this week.

In a ruling on Tuesday, the Supreme Court extended a temporary stay that its president, John Roberts, issued last week. According to the order of the highest court, the case will be submitted for discussion in February and the suspension will remain until the judges make a new determination.

The limits were put in place during the administration of President Donald Trump at the start of the pandemic. Pursuant to the restrictions, the United States has removed asylum seekers from within the country 2.5 million times — and turned away the majority of people who applied for asylum at the border — on the grounds of preventing the spread of the virus. COVID-19. The restrictions are often referred to as Title 42, referring to a 1944 public health law.

Immigrant advocates have filed a lawsuit to end the enforcement of Title 42. They said the policy goes against US and international obligations to people fleeing persecution. They have also argued that the policy is outdated due to improvements in coronavirus treatments.

The Supreme Court’s decision comes at a time when thousands of migrants have flocked to the Mexican side of the border, filling shelters and worrying activists seeking ways to care for them.

“We are extremely disappointed for all the desperate asylum seekers who will continue to suffer because of Title 42, but we will continue to fight to end the policy,” said Lee Gelernt, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, who had advocated for it to be put in place. end to Title 42.

Tuesday’s ruling specified that the Supreme Court will review the issue of whether states have the right to intervene in the legal dispute over Title 42. The federal government and immigrant advocates have argued that states waited too long to intervene. , and even if they had not waited that long, they lack the legal status to intervene.

In a dissent, Justices Neil Gorsuch and Ketanji Brown Jackson said that even if the highest court were to find that states have a right to intervene and Title 42 had been lawfully adopted, “the emergency on which those orders were based has expired a long time ago.”

The judges noted that the “current border crisis is not a COVID crisis.”

“And courts should not be engaged in perpetuating administrative edicts designed for an emergency just because elected officials have failed to resolve a different emergency. We are a court of law, not policy makers of last resort,” the judges wrote.

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said Tuesday that the Biden administration “will, of course, comply with the order and prepare for court review.”

“At the same time, we are advancing our preparations to manage the border in a safe, orderly, and humane manner when Title 42 is finally lifted, and we will continue to expand legal pathways for immigration,” Jean-Pierre added. “Title 42 is a public health measure, not an immigration measure, and it should not be extended indefinitely.”

In November, a federal judge ruled in favor of pro-immigrant activists, setting a December 21 date to end the use of Title 42. A group of conservative-leaning states turned to the Supreme Court to prevent the caps from being removed. , warning that an increase in immigration would affect public services and cause an “unprecedented calamity” for which the federal government lacked a plan to deal with, they said.

Roberts, who handles emergency matters coming from the federal courts in the nation’s capital, issued a stay to give the court time to further examine the arguments of both sides.

The federal government asked the Supreme Court to reject the states’ position, while also acknowledging that ending the restrictions abruptly would likely lead to “disruption and a temporary increase in illegal border crossings.”

The precise question before the highest court is a complicated, largely procedural question of whether states should be allowed to intervene in the lawsuit, in which pro-immigrant activists have been at odds with the federal government. . A similar group of states won a ruling by a lower court in a different judicial district preventing an end to the restrictions after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in April that they had decided to end the policy.

Until the judge’s order in November in the activists’ lawsuit, the states had not sought to participate in that case. But they say the government has essentially abandoned its defense of Title 42 policy and they should be able to participate. The government has appealed the ruling, though it has not attempted to keep Title 42 operating pending the case.


Spagat contributed from San Diego.

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