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Alabama among states fighting to keep away asylum seekers

Silvia Moreno del Castillo
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
FILE - Silvia Moreno del Castillo, center, of Lima, Peru, holds her daughter Brisa, 3, by the hand, followed by her husband Gerardo Puente, as the family who is seeking asylum from Peru is greeted by Derick Alegria, left, and Orlando Andara, both with the nonprofit SAMU First Response, as a bus of asylum seekers who were sent from Arizona to Washington arrives, Aug. 11, 2022, to a church on Capitol Hill in Washington. A coalition of conservative-leaning states are making a last-ditch effort to keep in place a Trump-era public health rule that allows many asylum seekers to be turned away at the southern U.S. border. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

A coalition of conservative-leaning states, including Alabama, is making a last-ditch effort to keep in place a Trump-era public health rule. It allows many asylum seekers to be turned away at the southern U.S. border. The fifteen states filed what’s known as a motion to intervene. That means they want to become part of the legal proceedings surrounding the public health rule referred to as Title 42.

The rule was first invoked by Trump in 2020. It uses emergency public health authority to allow the United States to keep migrants from seeking asylum at the border, based on the need to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. It’s set to end late next month, which could upend border enforcement as Republicans are about to take control of the House from the Democrats following midterm elections. The GOP is planning to make immigration a central part of their agenda.

The states argued that they will suffer irreparable harm from the impending Termination of Title 42. They contend that the states should be allowed to argue their position well before the Dec. 21 termination date. A lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union is arguing to end the use of Title 42. The citizens’ rights group called into question the states’ motivation for trying to keep the public health rule in force.

Immigrant rights’ groups have argued that the use of Title 42 unjustly harms people fleeing persecution and that the pandemic was a pretext used by the Trump administration to curb immigration. A judge ruled for the immigrants rights’ groups last month, calling the ban “arbitrary and capricious.”

U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan’s ruling stands, it could have a dramatic impact on border enforcement. Migrants have been expelled from the United States more than 2.4 million times since the rule took effect in March 2020.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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