A federal judge in Louisiana said on Monday that he intends to rule that U.S. authorities cannot immediately proceed with plans to lift pandemic restrictions that empowered U.S. agents at the Mexico border to turn back migrants without a chance to seek asylum.
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays stated his intention after a hearing in a case brought by 21 states against the administration of President Joe Biden.
The ruling would upend a decision by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to terminate the so-called Title 42 border order by May 23. Title 42 allows U.S. authorities to rapidly expel migrants to Mexico and other countries without the chance to seek asylum.
Monday's decision is a victory for Republicans who said ending the order would have increased illegal immigration and what they characterized as meritless asylum claims.
The CDC said in early April that Title 42 was no longer needed to fight COVID-19 due to the increased availability of vaccines, therapeutics and other tools to counter the disease.
In the Louisiana lawsuit, a coalition of 21 states led by Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri, all with Republican attorneys general, are seeking to halt the termination of the order put in place under former Republican President Donald Trump in early 2020 at the onset of the pandemic.
Biden, a Democrat, has struggled to implement what he describes as a more humane and orderly system at the U.S.-Mexico border amid record numbers of migrants arrested while crossing illegally, unfavorable court rulings and political opposition from Republicans and some in his own party.
Homeland Security officials have expressed concern that ending Title 42 would bring a rush of migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border. The ruling is a major win for the three Republican states that brought the lawsuit in early April, and 19 others that have since joined, the Washington Examiner reported.
"In a lawsuit originally filed by Missouri, Louisiana, and Arizona, our Office just obtained a temporary restraining order to keep Title 42 in place. This is a huge victory for border security, but the fight continues on," Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt wrote in a Twitter post Monday afternoon.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, tweeted: "A step in the right direction. Keeping Title 42 will ensure our already overrun border doesn’t collapse completely."
"The Court discussed the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order [ECF No. 24] filed by Plaintiffs. For the reasons stated on the record, the Court announced its intent to grant the motion. The parties will confer regarding the specific terms to be contained in the Temporary Restraining Order and attempt to reach agreement," wrote Judge Robert Summerhays of the Western District of Louisiana, in his order, CNN reported.
"We applaud the Court for approving our request for a Temporary Restraining Order to keep Title 42 in place," Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said in a statement. "The Biden administration cannot continue in flagrant disregard for existing laws and required administrative procedures."
Texas filed a separate lawsuit to block the end of Title 42, but a Texas federal judge has not yet ruled on that case.
Newsmax staffer Jack Gournell contributed.
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