Tuesday, in a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal by Republican attorneys general from multiple states asking the court to review their challenge to the expiration of Title 42. Midway through December, the policy was scheduled to lapse, prompting concerns about a surge of immigration to the United States.
Rarely invoked since its enactment in 1944, Title 42 of the United States Code authorizes the government to restrict the entry of foreign nationals who pose a “serious danger” of spreading infectious illnesses.
In March of 2020, when the United States was dealing with the early months of the COVID-19 epidemic, then-President Donald Trump invoked the policy. However, to reduce the spread of COVID-19, US officials have invoked Title 42 to deport approximately 2.5 million asylum-seekers.
The Trump administration has been accused by immigrant advocacy groups of exploiting concerns about public health as a cover to implement the president’s long-sought immigration crackdown. Concerns have been raised that the approach is ineffective in preventing the spread of the infection. US health officials announced in April 2017 that the measure was unnecessary.
Conservative judges and officials have warned that the elimination of Title 42 will increase border crossings. Still, US President Joe Biden has faced intense backlash in his attempts to roll back the program.
So, Title 42 continued to be in effect during the Biden administration, even after a federal judge decided in November that it must be terminated. The judge set the end date for Title 42 on December 21, giving the Biden administration five weeks to make the necessary policy changes. The Supreme Court temporarily banned any action from terminating the policy days before its expiration while deliberating whether to take up the matter.
Because of the decision on Tuesday, the Supreme Court will hear arguments in the case in February, setting the stage for yet another legal struggle between liberal advocacy groups like the ACLU and conservative politicians.
The American Civil Liberties Union has contended that the regulation is unconstitutional and unnecessary because of advancements in COVID-19 therapy. Meanwhile, conservative groups worry that if Title 42 were repealed, immigration levels would soar, causing a crisis so “unprecedented” that government agencies would collapse.
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