A federal judge granted a temporary restraining order Monday preventing the Biden administration from lifting Title 42 before it expires next month.
Title 42 is the COVID-related public health order that allowed immigration officials to quickly expel migrants to prevent the spread of the virus.
The judge granted the order in a case brought by the Republican-led states of Missouri, Louisiana, and Arizona.
Critics, including many Democrats, have warned that lifting the order could lead to a flood of illegal immigrants at the U.S. southern border.
As CBN News has reported, the Centers for Disease Control planned to fully lift Title 42 by May 23. That decision is expected to attract even more migrants to the U.S.-Mexico border where they will find a system incapable of managing large migrant flows and currently buckling under a backlog of more than 1.7 million asylum cases.
The administration recently announced it will lift the public health order citing a drastic decline in COVID cases. The policy is named for a 1944 public health law to prevent communicable diseases.
The move by Biden is being legally challenged by 22 states and also faces growing opposition within the Democratic Party.
As CBN News reported, Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly are among the Democrats who oppose lifting the order.
"This is a crisis, and in my estimation, because of a lack of planning from the administration, it's about to get worse," Kelly said.
Kelly, Sinema, and other skeptical Democrats say the emergency powers must go away eventually, but they say the federal government has failed to develop and share plans to minimize the impact on states and communities near the border and the local religious and nonprofit groups that help migrants there.
Kelly and Sinema wrote a letter to President Biden urging him to delay ending the pandemic border rules until his administration is "completely ready to execute and coordinate a comprehensive plan that ensures a secure, orderly, and humane process at the border."
Biden Back at Supreme Court, Moves to End Policy of Asylum-Seekers Waiting in Mexico
President Biden has already faced criticism from within his own party and Republicans over how he has managed immigration. Republicans say his push to repeal Trump-era restrictions has led to an increase in illegal border crossings. Democrats have criticized the administration's continued use of a policy that forces migrants back to Mexico to wait out their claims, even though that policy was reinstated by the U.S. Supreme Court. There are thousands of people now in Mexico waiting for a chance to seek asylum.
On Tuesday, the Biden administration sought the Supreme Court's go-ahead to end the Trump-era immigration program that forces some people seeking asylum in the U.S. to wait in Mexico for their hearings.
The justices heard arguments in the administration's appeal of lower-court rulings that required immigration officials to reinstate the "Remain in Mexico" policy.
Texas and Missouri, which sued to keep the program in place, said it has helped reduce the flow of people into the U.S. at the southern border.
"Many raise meritless immigration claims, including asylum claims, in the hope that they will be released into the United States," the states told the Supreme Court in a filing.
About 70,000 people were enrolled in the program, formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols, after President Donald Trump launched it in 2019 and made it a centerpiece of efforts to deter asylum-seekers.
Biden suspended it on his first day in office and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ended it in June 2021. In October, DHS produced additional justifications for the policy's demise but was stopped by the courts.
Without adequate detention facilities in the U.S., Texas, and Missouri argue that the administration's only option is to make the immigrants wait in Mexico until their asylum hearings.