(NewsNation) — A pandemic-era public health order that was used more than 2 million times to turn away migrants without granting them the chance to seek asylum will remain in place in light of a federal judge’s ruling Friday.
The order, known as Title 42, was enacted in March 2020, and scheduled to expire on Monday. It allowed the U.S. government to deport migrants to curb the spread of COVID-19. The preliminary injunction granted Friday will remain in effect until an official trial is held.
The White House criticized the decision but vowed to follow it.
“The authority to set public health policy nationally should rest with the Centers for Disease Control, not with a single district court,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
However, Brandon Judd, president of the National Border Patrol Council, said the government could use humanitarian exemptions as a loophole to allow people from certain countries into the U.S. and circumvent Title 42.
“They are not applying Title 42 across the board. They are making exceptions,” said Brandon Judd, president of the Nation Border Patrol Council. “And even though this judge made this ruling, they can still make those exceptions. And tomorrow, they could decide that, well, we’re going to exempt Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras as well. They could do that. “
In the interim, the Department of Homeland Security is required to provide monthly reports updating information, including the number of single adults processed under Title 42 and Title 8, as well as the number of repeat border crossers subject to expedited removal.
The American Immigration Council criticized the move, arguing it would “cause immeasurable harm.”
“Rather than using public health laws to turn asylum seekers away, the United States should be working to rebuild a humanitarian protection system at the border that is safe, humane, orderly, and that can respond in times of global displacement,” Jeremy Robbins, the council’s executive director, said in a statement.
Border Patrol recently increased its manpower along the U.S.-Mexico border in anticipation of Title 42’s expiration, though many officials hoped the order would be extended at least temporarily.
Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorka anticipated a surge of migration as he said smugglers would seek to “take advantage of and profit from vulnerable migrants,” according to an April 26 memorandum.
In his ruling Friday, U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays acknowledged that ending Title 42 might have increased border crossings threefold to 18,000 per day.
“Moreover, the CDC’s own Termination Order acknowledges that the order ‘will lead to an increase in a number of noncitizens being processed in DHS facilities, which could result in overcrowding in congregate settings,'” the ruling read.
Increased migration to the U.S. is consistent with larger global trends, he said, adding that there are currently, more people displaced from their homes worldwide than at any time since World War
The number of migrant encounters has risen sharply during the pandemic, but the number of individuals encountered is considerably lower. Many migrants are repeat crossers because there are no legal consequences to being expelled under Title 42 authority.
In April, about 28% of migrants were encountered at least once in the previous year. U.S. authorities applied Title 42 in about four out of every 10 encounters. The rest were subject to immigration laws, which include a right to seek asylum.
The administration said in a court filing earlier this week that about 91,000 migrants were paroled into the U.S., including people allowed to make asylum claims.
This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.
You can read the entire ruling here.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.