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Supreme Court cancels Title 42 hearing, effectively ending legal fight over tool used to expel migrants

The federal government uses Title 42 to turn away thousands of asylum-seekers and migrants each month. Lawmakers have warned its end will cause chaos at the border.

SAN ANTONIO — The Department of Homeland Security is preparing to operate without a tool it's used to expel hundreds of thousands of migrants since 2020, now that a legal fight over the controversial policy appears to be over. 

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday removed a March hearing on Title 42 from its calendar.

The public health order allows the federal government to turn away migrants from countries where diseases are spreading. Former President Donald Trump enacted the policy in 2020 to limit the coronavirus's spread. 

President Joe Biden has also leaned on the policy to control immigration at the U.S. border with Mexico. Biden relaxed the order to separate fewer families, but recently expanded the code to apply to migrants from more countries. 

Title 42 became a key lynchpin in the White House's new immigration policy, even as the Biden administration fought to end the order. Federal courts have not allowed the president to terminate Title 42. 

The U.S. Supreme Court agreed to settle the matter after arguments on March 1. 

But the administration told justices earlier this month the issue is moot, since the White House will not extend the COVID-19 public health emergency declaration beyond May 11.

Because the current Title 42 order is tied to the pandemic declaration, it cannot continue beyond May 11. May is a peak immigration month. 

Republicans have warned ending the order will create chaos at the border, though they favor terminating the public health emergency declaration as soon as possible. Since October, the federal government has expelled nearly 137,000 migrants from Texas using Title 42 authorities.  

Lawmakers, including Biden, have called for a bipartisan immigration and border security deal that could effectively replace Title 42.


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