The Biden administration recently said it’ll terminate the national emergency declaration tied to the novel coronavirus pandemic by early May, a decision that left many wondering if it also means an end to Title 42, the debunked public health order that’s used the virus as an excuse to turn away asylum-seekers.
While the administration attempted to end that public health order this past December, it was blocked by the Supreme Court following a Republican-led lawsuit. We got more clarity this week, when the Justice Department asked the justices to dismiss the litigation, citing the upcoming end to the national emergency declaration.
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“The anticipated end of the public health emergency on May 11, and the resulting expiration of the operative Title 42 order, would render this case moot,” the federal government said in a filing.
A slate of Republican states are supposed to appear before the Supreme Court early next month to determine whether they even have standing to sue over the policy. The attorneys general had sought to block the administration from ending use of Title 42 on Dec. 21, a date that followed a lower court decision from November ruling that the policy was “arbitrary and capricious.” The policy was implemented by the CDC under political pressure by the previous administration.
The purpose of the December deadline was to ensure an orderly phase-out of the policy. The administration was bolstered in its efforts when an appeals court rejected Republicans’ challenge to the lower court’s ruling. That’s when Republicans went running to John Roberts and conservative justices for help, which they got.
But in light of the Biden administration’s present move announcing an end to the national emergency, it should mean an end to Title 42’s use as well. At least, that’s what officials and immigration policy experts are saying. But, very strangely, House Republicans seem to be saying it as well, having just passed legislation seeking to end the emergency order upon the bill’s enactment. That seems like a bit of a conundrum, because in theory it means they’re also seeking to quickly end their precious Title 42?
“Kentucky Republican Rep. Brett Guthrie, the lead sponsor of the bill, dubbed the ‘Pandemic is Over Act,’ insisted on the House floor before the vote Tuesday that ‘nothing in my bill’ would end the Title 42 policy,” Roll Call reported. It does seem like Republicans want to have their cake, and eat it too.
But as ridiculous as House Republicans may be, this isn’t about them or their dead-end bill, its about the litigation-hungry Republican states, the Biden administration’s request, and how the justices proceed. One conservative justice, Neil Gorsuch, actually crossed over to join the liberals in the court’s December decision. Will the court agree there’s nothing left there because the national order is over? Or will Republicans still somehow find a path forward, with the help of right-wing judges? It seems like the end of the road, but be cautious of the GOP’s insatiable hunger to hurt immigrants, and their political adversaries.
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