A federal judge struck down a Trump-era border policy that allowed law enforcement to swiftly expel migrants caught entering the country illegally Tuesday, causing warnings that the already severe humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border was likely to worsen.
The policy, known as Title 42, was implemented at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to remove border crossers, including asylum seekers, for public health reasons without hearing their cases to stay.
Senior US District Judge Emmet Sullivan ruled that Title 42 was “arbitrary and capricious” and no longer aligns with the current public health conditions in the US.
The Biden administration has previously argued that the state of the pandemic no longer justified the ongoing use of Title 42 — though the White House has contradicted itself by claiming COVID-19 is an ongoing emergency that justifies billions of dollars in student loan forgiveness.
Border Patrol has not yet received guidance on when the program will come to an end, sources told The Post. The agency expects to be notified of the exact end date of the program by Wednesday.
Brandon Judd, the head of the National Border Patrol Council, the union representing rank-and-file agents, told The Post that he expects an “explosion” of people trying to enter the country as a result of the ruling.
“All we have to do is look at the Venezuelans. Everybody that we were able to Title 42, we’ve seen a drastic drop in that population [at the border],” Judd said.
“Now that Title 42 goes away, we can expect that the Venezuelan population is going to go way back up there,” he added. “And every other population that we were exercising Title 42 on, we can expect a complete explosion.”
Out of nearly 2.4 million migrants apprehended at the southern border in fiscal year 2022, over 1 million were expelled immediately under Title 42, according to Customs and Border Protection. Asylum seekers subject to Title 42 were not allowed to remain in the US while waiting to plead their case.
Judd claimed that border agents will soon have no choice but to release everybody who crosses the border and doesn’t have a criminal record.
“DHS estimated that if Title 42 goes away, we could be apprehending as many as 500,000 people a month,” Judd told The Post. The current rate is about 220,000 people per month, including more than 230,000 last month.
“Here’s the most frustrating thing about this — everybody knew that Title 42 was on its last breath,” Judd added. “Everybody. The fact that this administration has developed no policies, programs or operations to deal with it once it ended is beyond ridiculous.”
Sullivan’s ruling was in response to action brought by the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of a group of asylum-seekers.
“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 said in a statement.
The fate of Title 42 became a point of contention among Democrats, with more centrist party members arguing for keeping the order in place temporarily and more left-wing advocates urging its immediate repeal.
In May, a Louisiana federal judge blocked the Biden administration’s attempt to end the policy.
Judge Robert Summerhays sided with 24 Republican state attorneys general who warned of a possible surge of migrants across the border that would overwhelm their resources.