The Biden administration told a federal judge in Louisiana on Friday that the court should deny a request from more than 20 states to immediately block the end of a Trump-era pandemic restriction on the US-Mexico border.
In a court filing, the Justice Department argued: “Plaintiffs fail to show that they face a significant, non-speculative threat of injury. In fact, they cannot. DHS continues to prioritize Title 42 expulsions to the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras.”
The administration is on track to end the public health authority, known as Title 42, on May 23, but in the interim, border authorities are still allowed to turn migrants away at the US-Mexico border.
Twenty-one states argued this week that the administration had begun releasing migrants into the US – as authorities have the discretion to do – and asked the court to intervene. Texas also filed a separate lawsuit Friday against the Biden administration to end Title 42. The Justice Department pushed back on that claim, saying that while it was deferring to traditional immigration protocols in some cases, numbers remain small.
“Use of expedited removal for amenable populations serves important law enforcement goals,” wrote Blas Nuñez-Neto, a senior Homeland Security official, in a declaration.
“Individuals from Northern Triangle countries that are placed into expedited removal and returned to their home countries are farther from the border than if they were simply expelled into Mexico pursuant to Title 42. And, as noted above, those who nonetheless seek to re-enter will face criminal sanction and be barred from lawful admission for a period of five years,” he added.
Nuñez-Neto argued that increasing the use of expedited removal is part of the preparation for the eventual end of Title 42. Still, the administration is leaning on the authority until its termination.