The US Supreme Court voted to keep a controversial policy from the Trump administration that stopped thousands of people from crossing the border between the US and Mexico.
Title 42 gives the government the power to automatically send back people trying to enter the country without proper papers.
People were worried that the number of migrants at the border would go up if the policy could be changed.
The Biden administration said it would follow the decision, but it also said that immigration policy should be changed.
In a statement, it said, “We are moving forward with our plans to manage the border in a safe, orderly, and humane way when Title 42 is eventually lifted, and we will keep adding legal ways to immigrate.”
Bill Cassidy, a Republican senator from Louisiana, said that getting rid of Title 42 “would have made our border crisis worse, and the White House seemed willing to let that happen.”
He said on Twitter, “Glad to see the Supreme Court step in to save it, but we need a permanent solution.”
Miguel Colmenares, a Venezuelan immigrant in the Mexican border city of Tijuana, said, “It breaks my heart that we have to keep waiting.”
The 27-year-old told Reuters, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. I don’t have any money, and my family is waiting for me.”
Since March 2020, the Title 42 policy has been used about 2.5 million times. It was supposed to end on December 21, but Chief Supreme Court Justice John Roberts stopped it from ending two days before the deadline.
Some Republican-led states had asked the court to keep the policy in place as a matter of urgency. This is why the court made its decision.
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 on Tuesday to keep the temporary stay that Justice Roberts had ordered while the case moved forward.
The nine Supreme Court justices will also listen to oral arguments about whether or not the states can help defend the policy.
Most likely, fights will happen in February or March 2023. By the end of June, a choice needs to be made.
The decision will be a blow to immigration activists, who sued to get rid of Title 42 on the grounds that it went against international laws that say people should be given asylum.
Title 42 supporters and officials in many border towns, on the other hand, said that lifting the policy would lead to more people coming to the border, which would put a strain on resources.
Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said in court documents filed last week that the government knew that getting rid of Title 42 orders would probably “lead to disruption and a temporary increase in illegal border crossings.”
“The government is not trying to downplay how bad that problem is in any way,” she said. “But the solution to the immigration problem can’t be to keep a public health measure in place indefinitely, even though we all agree that it no longer serves a public health purpose.”
Local governments and humanitarian groups at the border have said that they are already too busy and not ready for more asylum seekers to come.
In the city of El Paso, Texas, for example, officials declared a state of emergency last week and set up a temporary shelter with 1,000 beds in the city’s convention centre as part of a larger plan to deal with the growing number of asylum seekers on the streets.
Last week, city officials told the BBC that they were worried they wouldn’t be able to handle a large increase in the number of people who need food, shelter, and help to get to other parts of the US.
Susan Goodell, the head of the El Pasoans Fighting Hunger Foodbank, said that local non-governmental organisations had been told to expect “additional spikes” if Title 42 was lifted.