1 of 3 | U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays on Wednesday blocked the Biden administration from lifting Title 42, a Trump-era rule allowing the United States to expel migrants quickly under COVID-19 protocols. File Photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
April 27 (UPI) -- A federal judge on Wednesday temporarily blocked the Biden administration from ending an emergency order allowing the United States to expel migrants quickly under COVID-19 protocols.
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays issued an order barring the administration from taking actions to rescind the Trump-era policy known as Title 42 for 14 days with a hearing on the case set for May 13.
Under the order, the administration cannot use Title 8, which allows some migrants to legally seek asylum or other immigration relief, to increase the processing of migrants from Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador -- known as the Northern Triangle.
It can, however, still grant exemptions to migrants under Title 42 on a case-by-case basis.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced its intentions to end the rule on May 23, prompting some backlash as the Customs and Border Protection reported more than 221,000 encounters at the US-Mexico border in March.
Summerhays, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, issued a notice Monday saying he planned to temporarily block the Biden administration from lifting the rule in response to a lawsuit filed last week by 21 Republican-led states asking the court to immediately intervene.
"The Court further concludes that the Plaintiff States have established a substantial threat of immediate and irreparable injury resulting from the early implementation of Title 42, including unrecoverable costs on healthcare, law enforcement, detention, education, and other services for migrants, and further that the balance of harms and the public interest both favor issuance of a temporary restraining order," Summerhays wrote in Wednesday's order.
Earlier Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas testified before Congress about the administration's plans regarding Title 42.
Rep. Michael McCaul, R-Texas, said that the border is "out of control" while accusing the Biden administration of rescinding Title 42 because they "didn't like the former president."
"Your responsibility by law is to protect the United States, both air, land and sea," McCaul said. "You have failed in this mission when it comes to our land border."
In his testimony, he acknowledged that migration might increase when the rule is lifted as DHS said in March that as many as 18,000 migrants may arrive along the southern border per day.
Mayorkas asserted that Title 42 is not an immigration policy, but rather a rule put in place in response to the public health crisis brought on by the pandemic and deferred to the CDC on the decision to lift the rule.
"Our responsibility in the Department of Homeland Security is to implement the Title 42 authority of the CDC at our border and to implement it effectively and judiciously according to the law," he said. "We are mindful that there can be certain increases in migratory flows encountered at our southern border should Title 42 come to an end, as the CDC has determined it intends to do by May 23. Our responsibility, therefore, is to prepare and plan for that eventuality."