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WASHINGTON – In a ruling issued Tuesday afternoon, the Supreme Court issued a temporary stay that keeps immigration limits in place indefinitely.

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The ruling extends a stay issued by Chief Justice John Roberts last week and maintains the stay until justices decide the case, which will be argued in February.

The immigration limits were put into place by then-President Trump at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and have led to 2.5 million asylum seekers being expelled from the U.S., according to The Associated Press. The restrictions were put into place as part of a health policy aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Immigration officials have sued to end the policy, which they argue was an inappropriate use of the law used to bar migrants from entering the country, CNN reported.

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A group of conservative-leaning states has fought for Title 42 to remain in place, saying that an increase in migration will take a toll on public services and cause an “unprecedented calamity” the federal government has no plan to deal with, according to the AP.

Immigration advocates have said the policy goes against American and international obligations to migrants seeking asylum, and have said that the policy is outdated given the current treatments available for COVID-19, the AP reported.

Supreme Court issues stay by National Content Desk on Scribd

In their 5-4 vote, the justices blocked a lower court decision that would have invalidated the law, Bloomberg reported. Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the court’s three liberal justices in their dissent.

The Biden administration told the court it was prepared to use other immigration tools to offset a “temporary” increase in illegal crossings, Bloomberg reported.