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U.S. judge rules COVID-era Title 42 border expulsion policy unlawful

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Migrants expelled from the U.S. and sent back to Mexico under Title 42, walk towards Mexico at the Paso del Norte International border bridge, in this picture taken from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico October 1, 2021. REUTERS/Jose Luis Gonzalez

A U.S. judge on Tuesday ruled that a COVID-19-era order used to expel hundreds of thousands of migrants to Mexico was unlawful, a ruling that could have major implications for U.S. border management.

In a 49-page opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Emmit Sullivan said the policy was “arbitrary and capricious” and violated federal regulatory law.

The order, known as Title 42, was put in place under then-President Donald Trump’s administration in March 2020 early in the COVID pandemic. U.S. President Joe Biden continued to use the measure after taking office, expelling migrants about 2 million times, although many were repeat crossers.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued the order but later under Biden said it was no longer needed due to health reasons. However, a Louisiana-based federal judge ruled in May that the Biden administration could not end it.

Sullivan, of the U.S. District Court for the District of Colombia, wrote that the policy was “arbitrary and capricious in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act” ruling in a case brought by asylum-seeking families.