Title 42 should be over by now. The controversial immigration policy, which allows the U.S. to turn away migrants at the border due to Covid fears, was introduced during Donald Trump's presidency and should have ended early in Joe Biden's. But it didn't.
In March, I reported on the Biden administration’s plans to end the policy, crafted in part by former Trump adviser Stephen Miller, which was set to be lifted Monday. That came shortly before the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it determined the policy is “no longer necessary.” But Title 42 remains in place, and thanks to bigotry from judges and lawmakers — both Republicans and Democrats — this xenophobic blemish is likely to stick with us for the foreseeable future.
On Friday, following a lawsuit filed by multiple Republican-led states, a Trump-appointed federal judge in Louisiana granted a temporary injunction preventing the Biden administration from ending Title 42 this week. That same judge, Robert Summerhays of the Western District of Louisiana, issued a ruling last month that also blocked the administration from taking steps to lift the policy.
Last week's ruling was something of a force multiplier, coming after months of conservative hand-wringing over the policy’s potential end. For months, Republican leadership has been holding up a bill authorizing funds for the Covid response unless Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., allows a vote to codify Title 42.
It’s ironic, really: Republican lawmakers, who’ve long called for an end to Covid safety mandates, are desperately calling for this unnecessary safety measure because it allows them to target immigrants.
Nonetheless, Schumer hasn’t brought Title 42 up for a vote because it might pass. Centrist Democrats — including Sens. Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, Jon Tester of Montana, and Raphael Warnock of Georgia — have all shown support for upholding the policy.
That’s what makes Title 42 particularly shameful. This is a racist policy that should not exist, let alone slow the wheels of government to a halt in lieu of its passage. It’s not a policy worthy of withholding billions of dollars in pandemic aid to ensure it’s upheld.
And given all the other policies that seem to have died on the vine — from additional pandemic recovery funds to voting rights to federal abortion rights — the fact that we saw this level of bipartisanship and judicial backing for a policy so useless and overtly hateful is a national embarrassment.