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Federal judge blocks Title 42 border policy, reopening access for some asylum seekers

A federal judge struck down Title 42, a Trump-era policy that allowed U.S. authorities to expel over a million migrants that crossed the southern border ostensibly to stop the spread of COVID-19, CNN reports. 

Title 42 was enacted by the Trump administration at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the Biden administration has relied on it to address the increasing number of migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum. Before Title 42, officials processed asylum seekers arrested at the border under immigration laws.  

Washington, D.C. District Judge Emmet Sullivan found the policy "arbitrary and capricious," violating federal laws. Sullivan sided with asylum seekers represented by the American Civil Liberties Union, deciding that government agencies failed to show how the rule benefited public health. He blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for "its decision to ignore the harm that would be caused" by the policy. He also noted officials failed to consider alternative options before issuing the order. 

In response to the Tuesday court order, the Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security requested a stay on the ruling for five weeks, according to a court filing. In a statement released after the judge's ruling, the DHS said that if their request is granted, "the delay in implementation of the court's order will allow the government to prepare for an orderly transition to new policies at the border."