The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention planned to terminate a public health rule known as Title 42, which allows federal officials to expel immigrants for public health reasons, but a judge ruled late Friday that it must remain in place.
The news comes amid reports that the Department of Homeland Security says it would need as much as $2 billion to deal with the surge of migrants it expects to see at the border with Mexico if and when the rule is rescinded.
The controversial rule has been used to turn away more than 1.7 million migrants since the Trump administration put it into effect in 2020 with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. The Biden administration has kept the rule in place, to the consternation of many Democrats.
Currently, DHS encounters about 7,400 migrants at the border each day. According to internal documents seen by NBC News, DHS says it would need an additional $1.2 billion in funding if that number rises to 10,000 per day, $1.6 billion if it rises to 14,000 per day and $2 billion if it rises to 18,000 per day.
The additional funding would reportedly be used to construct facilities to handle migrants, build up the transportation network and enhance existing monitoring programs.
In the short term, though, the judge’s ruling Friday may help the Biden administration sidestep a difficult political issue. “The Biden administration is probably breathing a sigh of relief because they weren’t ready for the rule to be lifted, ” Wayne Cornelius of the University of California, San Diego, told The New York Times.
The ruling could also help ease the passage of the Covid funding bill that has been hung up in the Senate following efforts by Republicans to attach an amendment that would keep Title 42 in place.