Joe Biden’s immigration policy has received a new blow this Friday. A conservative judge has decided to keep Title 42 in force, the measure imposed by Donald Trump that allows the hot expulsion of migrants who cross the southern border of the United States from Mexico. The decision comes three days before the deadline set by the president for the elimination of this policy implemented by the previous administration for reasons of public health at the beginning of the pandemic.
A court 800 kilometers from the border has shaped the immediate future of the immigration policy of the Democratic Administration. Judge Robert Summerhays, of the western district of Louisiana, has ruled that the measure should be maintained to protect the complainants. The lawsuit over the end of Title 42 came to court in April promoted by the states of Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri and 17 other conservative strongholds. They seek to maintain the status quo that Donald Trump imposed in March 2020 on the border with a sanitary measure. “[El Gobierno federal de Biden] he does not know the damage he is causing to our states,” an Arizona official argued Friday in front of the robed man at the hearing of oral arguments.
Jean Lin, a Justice Department attorney, defended Washington’s view. “The states have not seriously challenged the sanitary nature of the determination,” argued the lawyer. The White House and some sectors of the Democratic Party affirm that there is no justification for maintaining a rule designed to shield the country from the coronavirus at a time when the states and the federal government have turned the page on the pandemic. Health experts have questioned the effectiveness of the measure in combating the virus.
The more moderate sectors among the Democrats, however, have criticized Biden’s decision to lift Title 42 in an election year and when the border registers high migratory flows. 59% of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of the border, according to an average of Real Clear Politics polls. In just six months, between last October and March, the measure was responsible for the expulsion of 548,000 people who arrived at the border with Mexico. Only the month of March registered 109,000 expulsions, 33% compared to the previous month and the highest figure documented since May 2021. Title 42 added more than one million returns last year and 1.7 million since its entry into force, at the start of the pandemic. In this figure, however, there may be several migrants who attempt the crossing more than once and try again.
88% of people who have been removed under Title 42 are adults who cross the line alone. 11% are families. Mexicans represent the majority of the first group of migrants, followed by Salvadorans and Guatemalans. Hondurans represent 36% of families. Recent weeks also indicate an increase in the presence of Haitians and Cubans, who have tried to cross the border at various points in Texas.
Summerhays’ decision has not been surprising. The states that initiated the lawsuit against Washington went to the Louisiana court because it was highly likely that the case would be turned over to the judge, who came to the district court in 2018 nominated by Donald Trump.
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The Justice Action Center, a progressive organization, describes the lawsuit as an attempt by Republicans to co-opt the judicial system “to continue the inhumane and immigrant policies” established by Donald Trump. These, considers Esther Sung, legal director of the center, violate international treaties on asylum obligations. “Instead of driving people back into the danger that made them flee, we must restore the asylum system, reopen ports of entry, and fund border organizations that are helping all those seeking refuge,” said Sung.
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