Border Program to Expel Migrants Must Remain in Place, Supreme Court Rules

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that a pandemic-era health measure that restricted migration at the southwestern border would remain in place for the time being, delaying the potential for a huge increase in illegal crossings at the southern border.

In a brief, unsigned order, the justices stayed a trial judge’s ruling that would have lifted the measure, known as Title 42, that allowed even migrants who might otherwise qualify for asylum to be swiftly expelled at the border.

The court said that it would hear arguments in the case in February and that the stay would remain in place until it issued its ruling. The justices said they would only address the question of whether the 19 mainly Republican-led states that had sought the stay could pursue their challenge to the measure.

Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Neil M. Gorsuch and Ketanji Brown Jackson dissented.

The court’s order was a provisional victory for the 19 states that had sought to keep Title 42 in place, saying it was needed to prevent a surge of border crossings. “The failure to grant a stay will cause a crisis of unprecedented proportions at the border,” lawyers for the states wrote in an emergency application, adding that “daily illegal crossings may more than double.”

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