A federal judge on Tuesday blocked Title 42, a Trump-era rule that has allowed immigration authorities to expel more than 1 million migrants who crossed the U.S.-Mexico border since the start of the pandemic.
District Judge Emmet Sullivan in Washington, D.C. ruled the measure to be “arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act.”
Title 42 was enacted as a public health order in 2020 under the Trump administration, and has continued to be used as an immigration enforcement measure even under Biden.
Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that it would terminate the order, but in May a federal judge in Louisiana blocked the Biden administration from ending Title 42. In September, the White House expanded Title 42 to expel Venezuelan migrants at the southern border.
Judge Sullivan said that because Covid-19 was already widespread in the U.S. by the time the policy was enacted, it did not rationally serve its purpose of protecting public safety.
“Title 42 was never about public health, and this ruling finally ends the charade of using Title 42 to bar desperate asylum seekers from even getting a hearing,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney Lee Gelernt, who argued the case, said in a statement.
The ruling restores asylum seekers’ access to U.S. borders for the first time since 2020 and takes effect immediately.