US high court blocks end to Title 42 amid surge of migrants in border region

By Alejandra Arredondo

El Paso, Texas, Dec 19 (EFE).- The Supreme Court on Monday granted a request by 19 Republican-controlled states seeking to postpone the expiration of Title 42, a measure that has allowed the immediate expulsion of foreigners arriving at the United States-Mexico border to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

Chief Justice John Roberts issued a brief ruling temporarily freezing an order handed down last month by a federal district judge.

That provisional ruling allows the policy to remain in place while the Supreme Court considers the GOP-led states’ emergency request, which they filed alleging that the number of border crossings would surge even more if Title 42 is not preserved.

President Joe Biden’s administration, meanwhile, was given until 5 pm Tuesday to file its legal response to the matter, which is expected to be resolved by the Supreme Court in the coming days.

This latest development comes as shelters in El Paso, a Texas city located across the border from Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, are unable to provide refuge for all of the many thousands of migrants who have arrived in recent weeks, many of whom are being forced to sleep on the streets.

Migrants have been motivated to reach the border in expectation that Title 42 would expire on Wednesday.

The number of migrants who have arrived in El Paso is so large that Mayor Oscar Leeser declared a state of emergency on Saturday to tap into additional resources and establish more shelters to house the new arrivals.

Alessandro Cordero, 20, entered the US three days ago and has been sleeping on the street since he arrived along with eight other migrants he met during his journey from Venezuela.

“We walked all over El Paso looking for space in the shelters, but they’re all completely full. There’s no space,” the young Caracas native told Efe.

The group is sleeping and spending the day in a small alley between the city’s bus station and an orange brick building. Several bags with clothing and blankets – donations from local residents – sit on the sidewalk next to them.

Cordero said he doesn’t want to stay in El Paso and would prefer to go to another city such as Denver or New York, where he believes it would be easier for him to find work and help support his four-year-old son back in Venezuela.

“We don’t want to be a burden on the government. We want them to open the doors and allow the people who want to work to come in,” he added.

The city said its emergency declaration also will enable it to open an operations center and implement a plan to assist and protect migrants from the cold conditions of late fall and early winter in western Texas.

The residents of El Paso, meanwhile, have mobilized to help the new arrivals.

At 9 am, a pick-up truck parked near El Paso’s main bus station, where dozens of mostly Venezuelan migrants have spent several nights outside in temperatures below 10 C (50 F).

“Come over here, guys!” said Ted Rodriguez, a tall, elderly man with brown, wrinkled skin and aviator glasses who stepped down from the vehicle. He was carrying a box filled with gloves, jackets and coats.

Rodriguez, a Mexico native, told Efe he had come by to help people who, just as he had many years ago, had left their home countries to move to the US.

“I had extra clothing that wasn’t being used, winter things, and I wanted to come and give it them, to see if it would fit anybody, because they’re suffering from the cold and colder days are coming,” the 75-year-old said.

Fifteen minutes later, a retired couple – Alejandra and Ernesto, also originally from Mexico – drove up in a red sedan. They brought a hot pot of coffee, one bag with oranges and another with bread and burritos.

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