People For the American Way

Trump Judge Blocks Biden Repeal of Restrictive Trump Immigration Policy

News and Analysis
Trump Judge Blocks Biden Repeal of Restrictive Trump Immigration Policy
Photo provided by Custom and Border Protection to reporter on tour of detention facility in McAllen, Texas

Trump District judge Robert Summerhays of Louisiana issued a nationwide order that stopped the Biden Administration from taking steps to rescind a very restrictive Trump immigration policy. That policy (referred to as Title 42) requires immediate expulsion of immigrants, even those seeking asylum. The April 2022 temporary restraining order was in Arizona v CDC.

What did the Trump Administration do concerning Title 42?

 Allegedly based on public health concerns, the Trump Administration issued the “Title 42” order in March, 2020. It requires agents to immediate turn away immigrants at the border, without even giving them the chance to seek asylum or appear before an immigration judge.

Advocates severely criticized the order, explaining that the “unlawful, xenophobic policy” threatened “children, family and adults fleeing danger.” The policy has resulted in the expulsion of over 1.6 million immigrants and asylum-seekers.


What happened under the Biden Administration?

The Biden Administration promptly began to re-evaluate the Title 42 rule. In March, 2022, the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit severely limited the Title 42 policy. It ruled that the government could not use it to expel immigrants to countries where “they will likely be tortured” or threatened because of “race, religion, nationality,” political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. It sent the case back to a lower court for implementation. At the same time, as reported in this blog, a Trump district judge blocked a Biden Administration decision to exempt unaccompanied children from the Title 42 order.

In early April, the Biden Administration announced that it would rescind the Title 42 order by the end of May.  Instead, the CDC will provide COVID-19 vaccinations to people at the border and take other, genuine public health measures. A recent plan provided more details, including use of other expedited removal procedures where appropriate. But a group of Republican states filed suit in Louisiana to challenge the plan.


What happened when Republican states challenged the end of the Trump policy?

 Trump judge Summerhays held a status conference in the case filed by Louisiana, Arizona, and Missouri on April 25. Summerhays “announced” in a memorandum that he would grant a motion to limit steps to end the Title 42 policy.

Two days later, Summerhays granted the temporary restraining order sought by the states. It did not actually stop the Administration from ending the Title 42 policy towards the end of May. The court will hear argument on that issue on May 13. But the temporary order does stop the government from taking important preliminary steps to end the Title 42 policy.

Ironically, this includes prohibiting the government from speeding up immigrant processing under alternate procedures. Government officials explained that the order will “only worsen the border crisis” by limiting use of other expedited removal methods.


What happens next?

As discussed above, Summervale will hold a hearing soon on whether to stop the end of the Title 42 policy. The Trump judge’s negative tone towards Biden administration efforts in his temporary order suggests trouble ahead.

Texas also sued to block the end of Title 42 in federal court in Victoria, Texas.  This makes it likely that the case will be heard by Drew Tipton, a Trump judge who has previously issued orders blocking changes to Trump immigration policies.

It appears all too likely, therefore, that a Trump judge will again require the continuation of a harmful Trump immigration policy. More developments will likely occur in May.


Immigration, judges, Trump judges