Use of controversial border policy unclear despite last minute order from SCOTUS Chief Justice

US Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts temporarily halted the termination of Title 42, a controversial policy being used along the border to quickly expel migrants. Until Robert’s order, Title 42 was set to expire at midnight Dec 21.

Texas is one of 18 states that requested an emergency stay from the Supreme Court writing.

“DHS estimates that daily illegal crossings may more than double from around 7,000/day to 15,000/day once Title 42 is terminated.”

Roberts has given President Joe Biden’s administration until 5 p.m. eastern time on Tuesday to respond before a decision is made on whether the full court will take up this matter.

This is not the first time Title 42 was set for termination. The measures were set to expire in May before a coalition of conservative states filed a lawsuit in Louisiana federal court. At the time, the court ruled Title 42 was needed to help manage the record number of crossings seen along our southern border. President Joe Biden’s administration is appealing that ruling.

In a separate lawsuit, a federal court in Washington, DC recently ruled the use of Title 42 was “arbitrary and capricious.”

Immigrant and civil rights organizations have argued Title 42 is preventing migrants from claiming asylum. After issuing the more recent ruling, a federal court judge gave the federal government until Dec. 21 to prepare for the end of Title 42.

Title 42 is a health-related law that was enacted under former President Donald Trump’s administration as a way to quickly expel migrants caught crossing into the country illegally. Immigration advocates argue there is no longer a legal basis to keep Title 42 in place since the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which has the authority to use Title 42 as a way to prevent the spread of communicable diseases, rescinded its order in April.

The number of encounters seen along the southern border reached a record high of more than 2.3 million in the fiscal year 2022.

Customs and Border Protection defines an encounter as a migrant apprehended for illegally crossing the border or a migrant who arrived at a port of entry and was deemed inadmissible to the United States. According to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, the backlog in immigration court has also now reached 2 million cases.

One of the most active areas along the southern border is Texas’ Del Rio sector.

In October alone, CBP recorded more than 42,000 encounters with 66% involving migrants from countries other than Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala or El Salvador.

During a recent trip to Eagle Pass, KPRC 2 Investigates saw agents apprehending migrants from Cuba, Peru, Colombia, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, as well as migrants from Central America.

All said they were fleeing rampant violence and extreme poverty in their home countries.

About the Author:

Award winning investigative journalist who joined KPRC 2 in July 2000. Husband and father of the Master of Disaster and Chaos Gremlin. “I don’t drink coffee to wake up, I wake up to drink coffee.”