coronavirus pandemic

Title 42 Decision in Hands of Federal Judge, No Ruling Friday

Title 42 is part of the Public Health Service Act of 1944

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A federal judge on Friday did not issue an immediate ruling on whether the Biden administration can rescind a public health order allowing the federal government to turn away migrants, including those seeking asylum.

Title 42 is part of the Public Health Service Act of 1944, which authorizes the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to take measures to prevent the entry and spread of communicable diseases from foreign countries into the United States and between states. It was imposed in March 2020 by then-president Donald Trump at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In April 2022, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would be terminating the Title 42 order, because it was "no longer necessary." COVID-19 cases had been decreasing and tools such as vaccines and therapeutics are widely available, the CDC noted.

At a hearing Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays of Louisiana said he would leave the policy in place for now while he weighs a legal challenge filed by more than 20 states seeking to bar the administration from rescinding the Title 42 policy.

Summerhays said he would issue a ruling before May 23, which is the date set for lifting the asylum restrictions

Eric Cedillo, an attorney specializing in civil litigation and immigration in Dallas, said the Biden administration has allowed certain exceptions such as unaccompanied minors.

“I think that’s the misconception. Title 42 is going open the border somehow. It doesn’t do that at all,” Cedillo said. “Not everybody who makes an asylum claim is a good asylum claim or claimant but many that we have sent back to their home country, unfortunately, are being sent back to their deaths. That’s the reality of it. One that, I don’t think many people realize.”

Critics of the administration’s plan to rescind Title 42 fear it will cause a surge of migrants at the southern border. At the hearing Friday, an argument was also made regarding the health of Americans.

Domingo Garcia, national president of the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), said his organization is watching the developments closely.

“We have volunteers right now all across the border, helping refugees. We’re talking about children, families, who are in 107-degree weather,” Garcia said.  “A lot of them are Haitians, by the way. These are not even Mexican. A lot of them are coming from Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, fleeing communist dictatorships and corrupt governments.”

So far, Summehays' rulings have strongly favored those challenging the administration.

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