The case was filed by the attorneys general in Arizona, Louisiana, Alabama, Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.
It argues that even states that are not on the border would be adversely impacted by the suspension of the policy. “Wherever those aliens end up, they will impose financial burdens on the states involuntarily hosting them,” the motion said.
It said states also have a sovereign interest in “excluding persons carrying communicable diseases,” though Judge Sullivan in his ruling noted that the number of migrants who have tested positive for the coronavirus has been very low.
Lee Gelernt, the A.C.L.U. lawyer who filed the lawsuit before Judge Sullivan on behalf of migrants who are seeking asylum, said it was “hypocritical” for the intervening states to demand Covid-19 restrictions for asylum seekers when they had opposed such restrictions in their own states in the past.
“The states mistakenly believe Title 42 can be used for general border enforcement,” Mr. Gelernt said, “but it is a limited public health provision, and these states have not remotely shown that they need Title 42 for public health reasons.”
The pandemic order has become a de facto tool for immigration enforcement. The U.S. Border Patrol has conducted 2.4 million expulsions under the policy since it was put into effect by the Trump administration. Those subjected to it are not allowed to request asylum and are bused to Mexico or sent by plane to their countries of origin.
Lifting the order could result in thousands of additional migrants making their way to the border, the Biden administration has predicted.