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Judge Says Asylum Curbs On Southern Border Must Continue

Pandemic restrictions on migrants seeking asylum on the southern border must continue, a judge ruled, blocking the Biden administration’s plan to lift them next week. The Justice Department will appeal, but the ruling virtually ensures that restrictions will not end as planned on Monday. A delay is opposed by advocates who say rights to seek asylum are being denied, and a relief to some Democrats who fear that an anticipated increase in illegal crossings would put them on the defensive in a difficult midterm election year. Migrants have been expelled 1.9 million times since March 2020 under Title 42, a public health law that denies them a chance to request asylum on grounds of preventing the spread of COVID-19, the Associated Press reports.

U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays in Lafayette, La., ordered that the restrictions stay in place while a lawsuit led by Arizona and Louisiana and joined by 22 other states plays out. Summerhays sided with the states in ruling that the administration failed to follow procedures requiring public notice and time to gather public comment on the plan to end the restrictions. The judge cited the government’s predictions that ending the restrictions would likely increase border crossings threefold, to as many as 18,000 daily. That, he added, would result in more migrants being processed in settings where contagious disease can be spread. “Such an increase in border crossings will increase their costs for healthcare reimbursements and education services. These costs are not recoverable,” Summerhays wrote. The White House disagreed with the ruling but will comply while it is appealed. “The authority to set public health policy nationally should rest with the Centers for Disease Control, not with a single district court,” said White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.


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