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What is Title 42 in regards to immigration? Border policy explained as federal judge blocks Biden administration move

Mexico native seeking immigration to the USA protesting in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico (Image via Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)
Mexico native seeking immigration to the USA protesting in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico (Image via Guillermo Arias/AFP via Getty Images)
Abhirup Sengupta

On Friday, May 20, Louisiana-based Federal U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays blocked the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (C.D.C.) plans to scrap Title 42 health policy. The policy allowed the border authorities to expel immigrants on health concerns, especially amid the pandemic.

The Biden administration attempted to nix the policy, which led to legions of immigrants not being allowed in the country over the two years of the pandemic. Judge Summerhays reportedly prevented the policy from getting cut off hours before its expiration.

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The 47-page ruling supported the 24 Republican state attorneys general that expressed concerns over the rise in immigration from Mexico, which might put stress on the country’s resources.


What did the Louisiana Judge say while ruling in favor of Title 42?

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Judge Summerhays, who was appointed by former U.S. President Donald Trump, mentioned in the ruling that C.D.C. should have incorporated public opinion before they attempted to scrap the policy. He wrote:

“Simply put, the C.D.C. has not explained how the present circumstances prevented the C.D.C. from issuing the Termination Order through the required notice and comment process.”

Meanwhile, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre released an official statement on the ruling, saying that the administration disagrees with the decision and will appeal it. She said:

“The authority to set public health policy nationally should rest with the Centers for Disease Control, not with a single district court.However, in compliance with the court’s injunction, the Biden Administration will continue to enforce the C.D.C.’s 2020 Title 42 public health authority pending the appeal.”

This meant that immigrants entering the country could still be subjected to expulsion under the terms and conditions of the policy. However, this may change if the Biden Administration, in their appeal, can convince the court to rule in favor of removing the policy.


What is stated in Title 42 and its effect on immigration?

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Title 42 refers to an immigration-related policy that was implemented in 1944. The approach empowers health or medical officials with the ability to reject the migration of foreign individuals amid health concerns. It also gives agencies like C.D.C. the power to enforce expulsion of non-citizen individuals on the grounds of avoiding contagious diseases.

As per the 42 U.S.C. §§ 265, 268, and 42 C.F.R. § 71.40 (i.e., “Title 42”),

“Whenever the Surgeon General determines that by reason of the existence of any communicable disease in a foreign country there is serious danger of the introduction of such disease into the United States…the Surgeon General, in accordance with regulations approved by the President, shall have the power to prohibit, in whole or in part, the introduction of persons and property from such countries or places…”

Meanwhile, the C.D.C. announced last month that with the availability of “tools to fight COVID-19 (such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics)," Title 42 is no longer necessary. The press release also stated that C.D.C. would help the Department of Homeland Security (D.H.S.) to implement other procedures to mitigate COVID-19.


Edited by Sayati Das

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