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Biden to comply with forthcoming order to keep Covid border restrictions in place

The Biden administration said on Tuesday that it will comply with an expected court order from a Louisiana judge that would block the lifting of Title 42, a Trump-era deportation policy used to expel more than one million migrants at the Southern border.

The administration had announced that it would end the use of Title 42, a public health order, by May 23. But a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana announced on Monday that he would side with Republican states to keep the order preserved barring some agreement being reached between them and the administration.

“If and when the court issues the TRO [temporary restraining order] the department is planning to comply with that order,” a senior administration official said on a call with reporters Tuesday, announcing the administration’s detailed plan for after Title 42 is lifted.

The official knocked the impending decision, saying “It really makes no sense to us that the plaintiffs would demand and the court would order that [Department of Homeland Security] be stopped in its use in expedited removal, which is going to prevent us from adequately preparing for the aggressive applications for immigration law when public health expires.”

Officials on the call outlined the administration’s six-point plan for the aftermath of the Title 42 order being lifted at the end of next month. The plan includes more resources to deal with an expected surge of migrants at the border, which the administration says would allow them to process 18,000 migrants in custody “at any given time.”

The plan also includes leaning on other federal agencies and neighboring nations to “share the responsibility” of deterring irregular migration, including targeting criminal organizations and smugglers.

“We’ve already begun referring individuals who are recidivist border crossers, that is, who cross regularly and get expelled under Title 42 into ER in order to levy significant immigration and law enforcement consequences,” an official said.

Last month, DHS released a separate fact sheet on preparations it has undertaken for Title 42 being lifted that was less detailed. When asked if the two were different or there would been an evolution, an official noted that the actual date for the policy being rescinded was getting closer.

“We thought it was prudent to produce this document that doesn’t just include what’s in our plan but really memorializes all of the efforts that have been underway for many months and over a year in some cases to address all of these issues in a holistic and kind of comprehensive way,” the official said.

The decision by the Louisiana judge eases some of the political pressure the White House has been facing on the issue of Title 42, even from members of its own party. Democrats in swing states worried that lifting the order would worsen the politics of immigration for them and Biden heading into the midterms.

Kerri Talbot, deputy director of the advocacy group Immigration Hub, had urged the White House to improve its communication with the Hill about its plans for addressing increased migration in the coming months. After seeing the strategy and new details provided on Tuesday, Talbot said, “this plan definitely shows that they’re ready.”

“The combination of this new plan rollout plus the fact that Title 42 is temporarily enjoined, those two together should help lawmakers feel more comfortable,” Talbot added.

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