Under Section 42, immigration authorities can quickly remove many immigrants they find without giving them the opportunity to seek asylum or other protections under US law. The restrictions were put in place by the administration of former President Donald Trump in March of 2020, just as the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic was just beginning in the United States.
The Supreme Court has blocked the Biden administration’s plans to lift restrictions due to the pandemic, at least temporarily, National Public Radio reports. The decision, experts say, is a victory for the Republican attorneys general of 19 states, who asked the court to uphold the restrictions not because of a public health emergency, but because their removal is likely to lead to a surge in illegal immigration. .
White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said the Biden administration “will comply with the order and prepare for further court proceedings.”
“At the same time, we are advancing our preparations for safe, orderly and humane border management when Section 42 is finally repealed and we will continue to expand legal avenues for immigration,” he said.
In November, Federal Judge Emmett Sullivan ruled that Section 42 was illegal and set it to expire on December 21. But the Supreme Court stayed that ruling on December 19, all but guaranteeing that the Section 42 restrictions will continue for at least the next few months. Immigration supporters have argued that Section 42 was intended to block asylum seekers from entering the US under the guise of protecting public health.
Meanwhile, migrants continue to arrive in large numbers at the southern US border, and the Biden administration has yet to announce a long-term asylum plan. In El Paso all the shelters were filled. Hundreds of migrants were in the streets and the city’s mayor declared a state of emergency.