The Supreme Court has extended pandemic-related limits on immigration indefinitely.
On Tuesday, the Supreme Court issued an order extending the temporary stay on immigration that was implemented by Chief Justice John Roberts last week. The case will be argued in February, and the stay will remain in place until a ruling is made by the justices.
The immigration limits were implemented by former President Donald Trump at the start of the pandemic. Under these restrictions, officials have denied most asylum requests at the border in an effort to control the spread of COVID-19. The restrictions are commonly referred to as Title 42.
Immigration advocates have filed a lawsuit seeking to end the use of Title 42, arguing that it harms individuals seeking refuge in the US to escape persecution. They have also claimed that the policy is no longer necessary as COVID-19 treatments have improved.
In November, a federal judge ruled in favor of the immigration advocates and set a December 21 deadline for the end of the policy. Conservative states appealed the decision to the Supreme Court, expressing concern that an increase in migration would strain public services and result in an "unprecedented calamity" for which the federal government had no plan in place.
Chief Justice John Roberts, who is responsible for handling emergency matters from federal courts in Washington, D.C., granted a temporary stay to allow the court to thoroughly review the arguments presented by both sides.
The federal government requested that the Supreme Court deny the appeal from the states, but also acknowledged that ending the restrictions suddenly could lead to "disruption and a temporary increase in unlawful border crossings."
The Supreme Court's decision coincides with the arrival of thousands of migrants at the Mexican border.
The specific issue being considered by the court is a complex, largely procedural question of whether the states should be permitted to become involved in the lawsuit. A similar group of states obtained a lower court order in a different court district to prevent the end of the restrictions after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced in April that it planned to end the use of the policy.
Prior to the November ruling in the lawsuit brought by the immigration advocates, the states had not sought to become involved in the case. However, they argue that the administration has effectively abandoned its defense of the Title 42 policy, and they should be allowed to intervene.
The administration has appealed the ruling, but has not taken steps to maintain the Title 42 policy while the legal case is ongoing.
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