The Supreme Court on Tuesday blocked the lifting of the controversial Trump-era border restriction known as Title 42, a ruling that forces the Biden administration to leave in place the federal directive that allows federal officials to continue swiftly expelling asylum seekers at the southern border at least for the next several months.
The court’s ruling comes as both Republicans and Democrats warned that the U.S. wasn’t prepared to handle the likely influx of migrants who had been gathering along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The 5-4 order is a victory for Republican-led states that urged the Supreme Court to step in and block a lower court opinion that ordered the winding down of the policy.
The Biden administration has said it was prepared for the authority to end and had put in place precautions to guard against confusion at the border and any potential surge of migrants.
Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan said they’d deny the application. Conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch also dissented and explained his thinking in an order joined by liberal Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Gorsuch said he does “not discount the States’ concerns” about border security. But Gorsuch noted that Title 42 was put in place to combat Covid-19, and “the current border crisis is not a Covid crisis.”
“Courts should not be in the business of perpetuating administrative edicts designed for one emergency only because elected officials have failed to address a different emergency,” Gorsuch wrote, according to CNN.
Administration officials have favored ending the public-health-based order, but have scrambled to finalize plans to deal with the anticipated surge. They have also been weighing policies to further restrict the number of migrants eligible for asylum in the U.S., Politico reports.
But the White House said it would comply with the order.
“Today’s order gives Republicans in Congress plenty of time to move past political finger-pointing and join their Democratic colleagues in solving the challenge at our border by passing the comprehensive reform measures and delivering the additional funds for border security that President Biden has requested,” White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.