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Just hours before Title 42, a Donald Trump-era measure that requires undocumented migrants seeking political asylum in the United States to remain in Mexico while awaiting a court decision on their eligibility, was due to expire, U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Roberts temporarily extended the measure late Monday, Dec. 19.

The last-minute ruling blocks the pandemic-era border policy from ending, putting a pause on the expected wind-down of a federal directive that has prevented the entry of millions of migrants and preventing what was expected to be an unprecedented flood of illegal crossings into the United States from Mexico.

Roberts’ decision came in response to a request filed by 19 Republican-led states, to reverse a lower court’s ruling that required the Joe Biden administration to lift the implementation of Title 42 by Wednesday, Dec. 21.

Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott warned Sunday that, should the policy be lifted, his state would face “total chaos,” a sentiment echoed by other conservative border state leaders.

Title 42 permits U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents to expel undocumented migrants back to Mexico or to their home countries without review in order to prevent the spread of covid-19 in holding facilities.

In April, Biden announced that he intended to suspend the policy, leading to a humanitarian crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border.

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