Judge: Nope. You still can’t lift Title 42 yet

Last week, in the U.S. District Court in Lafayette, Louisiana, Judge Robert Summerhays issued a pair of injunctions preventing the CDC from lifting Title 42 on the southern border. Those rulings agreed with a series of claims by the plaintiffs, a collection of Republican attorneys general, that beginning the lifting of the restrictions at this time would cause economic harm to multiple states. But Summerhays went on to later issue another ruling, saying that the CDC had failed to follow the proscribed process for lifting such restrictions, which would otherwise have happened today. This doesn’t mean that Title 42 won’t be lifted at some point. It almost certainly will. But this ruling buys everyone a few more weeks of scrambling to determine what the next steps will be. (CBS News)

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) cannot move forward with a plan to discontinue pandemic-related emergency rules that allow U.S. border agents to rapidly expel migrants to Mexico or their home countries on public health grounds, a federal judge in Louisiana ruled Friday.

Judge Robert Summerhays of the U.S. District Court in Lafayette, Louisiana, issued a preliminary injunction blocking the Biden administration from ending the restrictions, known as Title 42, on May 23, when the CDC had planned to stop authorizing the border expulsions.

Agreeing with arguments presented by Republican attorneys general who sued the Biden administration, Summerhays, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said the CDC had improperly terminated Title 42, a public health authority enacted during World War II.

This ruling was based on a purely procedural question. The CDC invoked Title 42 during Trump’s presidency and under Joe Biden, the measure was kept in place even longer than it had been under Trump, ejecting even more migrants than during Trump’s final year. But when Rochelle Walensky unilaterally declared in April that Title 42 was no longer needed and would be lifted on May 23, she did not follow the normal procedure and allow a period for the public to submit comments regarding the change.

Now, in order to meet the requirements of the court, the CDC will need to go back to the drawing board and open a period for public comments before releasing a final decision. As both John and Karen pointed out on Friday, the Biden administration is unlikely to appeal this ruling and it probably comes as something of a relief to them. The Biden border crisis has turned into an unmitigated disaster, with record-setting numbers of illegals streaming into the country. It’s not as much of a priority on the minds of the voters as inflation, soaring prices, and the looming threat of a potential war with Russia (or even China), but people have definitely noticed what’s going on and many are unhappy about it. Opening the floodgates and creating yet another surge of millions of illegal immigrants crossing the border is a losing game with the midterms quickly approaching.

If we’re being honest about this, we should admit that Title 42 is currently being used as a fig leaf. The entire purpose of invoking it was to prevent a flood of unvaccinated migrants from exacerbating the spread of COVID in the southern border states. At this point, most pandemic restrictions have been lifted and we’ve vaccinated pretty much everyone who is willing to take the shots. Using the virus as a reason to keep Title 42 in place is a rather weak argument. It’s currently just being used as a tool to prevent the border crisis from spiraling even further out of control.

But Title 42 is going to end at some point and it’s probably not more than a few weeks away. Let’s hope that someone in the Biden administration has their eye on the ball and has a plan to stop the situation on the border from devolving entirely into chaos. Sadly, given this administration’s track record thus far, there is little reason for optimism on that count.

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