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Border & Immigration

Federal judge hints he will block Biden’s attempt to end Trump-era asylum policy

A federal judge in Louisiana said Friday he will decide the fate of Title 42 — a controversial Trump-era asylum policy — within a week.

Title 42 allows border officials to turn away asylum seekers at the border without giving them a chance to see an immigration judge. It has been used 1.8 million times to turn people away from the border.

The Biden administration announced plans to terminate the policy on May 23. However, U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, will likely block Biden’s attempt to end the policy.

Summerhays wrote in an opinion last month that terminating Title 42 would cause “unrecoverable costs on healthcare, law enforcement, detention, education and other services.” He went on to say the administration might not have properly followed federal procedures to terminate the policy.

“I unfortunately anticipate that the ruling will be to continue to uphold Title 42 and probably there will be a permanent injunction to keep it moving forward,” said Pedro Rios, an activist with American Friends Service Committee. “That’s what the tea leaves are showing us right now.”

Advocacy organizations have documented thousands of cases in which migrants turned away via Title 42 were later robbed, beaten, kidnapped, or raped in Mexico.

Title 42 could be the second controversial Trump-era immigration policy that President Joe Biden is forced to keep in place because of a federal lawsuit.

Shortly after taking office in early 2021, Biden announced the termination of Migrant Protection Protocols — which forced asylum seekers to live in Mexico while their immigration court cases were adjudicated. Then, in August of last year, a federal judge in Texas ordered him to bring the policy back.

Rios sees these lawsuits as a growing strategy to keep Trump’s anti-immigration policies alive.

“I think what it represents is a failure of due process and a failure of checks and balances in the U.S. government, ” he said. “Where one judge decides that thousands of people no longer have the right under U.S. law or under international agreements to seek asylum in the United States.”