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Activists React To Supreme Court Blocking Immigrants Seeking Asylum

The Supreme Court is keeping pandemic-era limits on immigration in place indefinitely, dashing hopes of immigration advocates.
Posted at 7:50 PM, Dec 28, 2022

The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the hopes of thousands of migrants desperately seeking asylum in the U.S. 

Pedro De Velasco is the director of education and advocacy at the Kino Border Initiative — a non-profit that works with migrants. He says they’re now on the ground getting the word out to help migrants in limbo understand the ruling.  

"If it's hard for us, the NGOs that are working directly with the migrants. It can only be devastating for the migrants whose lives depend on the decision," said De Velasco.  

"We had a meeting last week with about 350 people that had been waiting for months in Nogales. And we communicate the the pause on the decision to end Title 42. And we're going to do the same now," De Velasco said. 

In a five to four vote, the nation’s high court extended Title 42 while legal challenges play out. This means federal agents will continue to quickly expel migrants under the pandemic-era policy. It's used to expel migrants seeking asylum — with some exceptions. It’s been used more than 2.5 million times since March of 2020.  

"The court is not going to decide until June apparently, and in the meantime we have to enforce it — but I think it’s overdue," said President Joe Biden.  

On the border in El Paso, Texas the mayor says they opened a coliseum and schools to provide asylum seekers shelter.

"We've had as many as 2,500 crossings a day, and that will continue. This is while Title 42 is still in place. Again, this is beyond Title 42. And we've had the incredible support from the federal government," said Mayor Oscar Leeser. "We've gotten about $10 million in front money to be able to provide the service. But, again, this is just a band-aid on a broken immigration system."

Supreme Court Keeps Immigration Limits In Place Indefinitely

Supreme Court Keeps Immigration Limits In Place Indefinitely

The restrictions, often referred to as Title 42, were put in place under then-President Donald Trump at the beginning of the pandemic.


In Yuma County, Arizona migrant crossings ballooned last fiscal year and remain high. The ruling on Title 42 drew some relief for those expecting a surge of migrants allowed to stay. 

"I was ecstatic, primarily because the administration has not put forward any type of a plan to deal with street releases or any of the other challenges of the border communities. So this gives them time to look and see what they might do to mediate some of the challenges," said Jonathan Lines, the Yuma County, Arizona district two supervisor. 

In a statement the Department of Homeland Security warned of smugglers seeking to take advantage of migrants through lies, putting their lives at risk.  

"It is really dangerous when you're a migrant because the organized crime is there is present and they don't see you as a human being. For some people, two months might not seem like a lot. But when your life is at risk. Two months could mean everything. I could be dead in two months," De Velasco said. 

The U.S. Supreme Court set a February timetable for hearing arguments.