US Supreme Court
US Supreme CourtiStock

The US Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday in favor of keeping pandemic-era limits on immigration in place indefinitely, The Associated Press reported.

In the ruling, the Supreme Court extended a temporary stay that Chief Justice John Roberts issued last week. Under the court’s order, the case will be argued in February and the stay will be maintained until the justices decide the case.

The limits were put in place under then-President Donald Trump at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the restrictions, officials have expelled asylum-seekers inside the United States 2.5 million times and turned away most people who requested asylum at the border on grounds of preventing the spread of the virus. The restrictions are often referred to as “Title 42”, in reference to a 1944 public health law.

Immigration advocates sued to end the use of Title 42, saying the policy goes against American and international obligations to people fleeing to the US to escape persecution. They’ve also argued that the policy is outdated as coronavirus treatments improve.

A federal judge sided with them in November and set a December 21 deadline to end the policy, according to AP. Some states then appealed to the Supreme Court, warning that an increase in migration would take a toll on public services and cause an “unprecedented calamity” that they said the federal government had no plan to deal with.

Roberts, who handles emergency matters that come from federal courts in the nation’s capital, issued a stay to give the court time to more fully consider both sides’ arguments.

The federal government asked the Supreme Court to reject the states’ effort while also acknowledging that ending the restrictions abruptly would likely lead to “disruption and a temporary increase in unlawful border crossings.”