Restrictions on asylum requests that have prevented hundreds of thousands of migrants from entering the US in recent years are set to expire next week, following an appeals court ruling.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday not to keep the Trump-era policy that restricts the number of asylum seekers the US would allow under the COVID-19 pandemic, collectively known as Title 42.
The rules will expire Wednesday unless a further appeal is filed.
Former President Donald Trump first implemented Title 42, which derives its name from Title 42 of a 1944 law covering public health, to combat the spread of the coronavirus when the pandemic was emerging across the globe.
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Since March 2020, there have been 2.5 million instances of migrants being denied the right to seek asylum under US and international law. The expiration of Title 42 will restore the pre-pandemic asylum-seeking process.
Nearly 20 Republican-led states are fighting to keep the restrictions in place as they claim the restrictions are helping reduce border crossings and eliminate asylum exploitation.
The Biden administration has already said it expects the already-high daily migrant influx will grow if the asylum restrictions are lifted and these Republican states argue their migrant housing facilities in cities, most notably El Paso, Texas, are overflowing.
Tijuana, the largest Mexican border city, has an estimated 5,000 people in more than 30 shelters, Enrique Lucero, the city’s director of migrant affairs said this week.
Many of these migrants are seeking access to the US and would be able to freely enter the US to claim asylum once the rules are lifted.
On the other side of the issue, migrant advocates argue the US was abandoning its longstanding history to offer refuge to people around the world. Typically, these asylum seekers are fleeing persecution in their home countries.
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The advocates sued to end the use of Title 42 on humanitarian grounds and also argue vaccines and the general decline in the global pandemic make the Trump argument outdated.
A judge last month sided with the asylum and migrant advocates and set Dec. 21 as the deadline for the federal government to end the Trump-era policy.
The three-judge panel ruled Friday night they would allow the restrictions to expire, as they said the states waited too long to make their appeal.
Louisiana’s Attorney General Jeffrey Landry expressed disappointment with the decision and said the Republican coalition would file an appeal to the Supreme Court.
Title 42 applies to all nationalities including Guatemalans, Hondurans, El Salvadorans, Venezuelans, and Mexicans.
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According to a Justice Department court filing released Friday, Border Patrol agents stopped single adults 143,903 times along the Mexican border in November, down 9% from 158,639 times in October.
Mexican single adults were stopped 43,504 times, down from 56,088 times in October.
Nicaraguan adults were stopped 27,369 times, up from 16,497.
Cuban adults were stopped 24,690 times by Border Patrol agents in November, up from 20,744.
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Venezuelan single adults were stopped 3,513 times, plunging from 14,697.
The Biden administration has yet to say how it intends to deal with the expected flux of migrants.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.