In a ruling passed down on November 15, a district court judge struck down Title 42, a pandemic-era policy intended to make it harder for many immigrants to seek asylum in the United States. According to the ruling, the policy was not passed in accordance with the Administrative Procedures Act, making it illegal under federal law. This means that asylum seekers will have an easier time pursuing legal protections when they cross the border into the U.S.
What is Title 42?
Title 42 is a rule that was originally implemented in 2020 that prevented immigrants from crossing the border between the United States and Mexico, turning them away without an opportunity to seek a hearing or make their case. This was a substantial change from the previous policy, which allowed asylum seekers to stay in the U.S. while they waited for their hearing before an immigration judge. This left many asylum seekers stranded on border cities in Mexico, unable to legally cross and without access to any of the resources normally available to asylees in the United States.
What Was This Lawsuit About?
The lawsuit that resulted in this ruling was brought against the Biden Administration by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) after it used it to expel migrants seeking to cross the border illegally without giving them an opportunity to claim asylum. This, the ACLU claimed, was an abuse of public health laws, given that the original justification for the policy was to prevent the spread of COVID. While the Biden Administration had already been trying to wind down Title 42, another lawsuit in Louisiana blocked that process until recently.
What Did The Judge Rule?
In this case, Judge Sullivan ruled that Title 42 was passed in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, which governs how federal agencies can pass laws. According to the ruling, the government had failed to adequately justify the policy, saying Title 42 “does not rationally serve its stated purpose in view of the alternatives,” adding that it was “arbitrary and capricious.” As a result, it was struck down, and the previous procedures for handling illegal border crossings was restored.
What Effect Will This Have on Immigrants?
For many immigrants, particularly those seeking asylum in the United States, this ruling is a welcome change. They now are not at risk of being turned away at the border without at least having the opportunity to exercise their legal rights. It also means they will no longer need to wait in border cities on the Mexican side of the border, which are often particularly dangerous for asylum seekers and other immigrants.
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