A new lawsuit filed in federal court on April 4 seeks to compel federal officials to keep a pandemic-era order in place to help manage the crisis at the U.S. Mexico border.

If the Biden administration is allowed to rescind the Title 42 order next month, it will lead to a spike in illegal immigrants flooding across the border, the new suit asserts.

“Defendants’ unlawful termination of the Title 42 policy will induce a significant increase of illegal immigration into the United States, with many migrants asserting non-meritorious asylum claims,” the attorneys general of Arizona, Louisiana, and Missouri, who brought the suit, said in the filing.

They cited reports quoting Biden administration officials who project that up to 18,000 illegal aliens could be apprehended at the border every day if the order is lifted.

Further, White House communications director Kate Bedingfield recently told reporters that the termination of the order would lead to “an influx of people to the border” and Customs and Border Protection Chief Chris Magnus said Monday that “we will likely face an increase in encounters above the current high levels.”

Under Title 42, border agents can quickly expel illegal aliens because they may have COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

“Title 42 is a crucial tool for controlling the influx of illegal aliens at our Southern border,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement.

The order was first imposed in March 2020 during the Trump administration and has remained in place since then, though after President Joe Biden took office it was halted for illegal immigrant children who arrive without a responsible adult.

Nearly 90,000 immigrants were expelled under the order in February alone.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which issued the order, announced Friday it would end it on May 23.

The decision was made because of “current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight COVID-19 (such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics),” the agency said. Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agency’s director, wrote in the termination decision that COVID-19 cases have “rapidly decrease[d]” since the latest peak in January, along with hospitalizations and deaths linked to the disease.

In the federal complaint, the attorneys general assert disparate treatment of the order and other pandemic-era policies.

“The Administration has not seen fit elsewhere to act upon these improvements by, for example, lifting the mask mandate on airline travel, of loosening or repealing its vaccination mandates, or ending its relentless campaign to discharge members of our military who have applied for religious exemptions for vaccination requirements—which have been almost uniformly denied,” they said.

The Republican officials also said the termination is arbitrary and capricious, and thus in violation of federal law, because defendants did not give notice to the public and solicit comments, even though the government did when first imposing the order.

They’re asking the court to rule that the termination violates the Administrative Procedure Act and enjoin defendants from ending Title 42.

Defendants include the CDC, Walensky, and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

Most defendants did not respond to requests for comment. Customs and Border Protection declined to comment, with a spokesman saying the agency does not remark on pending litigation.


Zachary Stieber covers U.S. and world news. He is based in Maryland.

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