The Biden administration told a Washington federal court Wednesday that it will appeal a ruling that struck down pandemic-related asylum restrictions known as Title 42.

The government, in a move that underscores the complicated legal and political currents of U.S-Mexico border policy, also said it will seek to delay that appeal while a separate lawsuit over the so-called Title 42 policy plays out.

But the Justice Department does not appear to be asking to pause the ruling that directed the government to end the Title 42 policy by Dec. 21.

Judge Emmet Sullivan of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled against the Title 42 directive in November, finding the policy was arbitrary and the government had not considered its harms to migrants.

Wednesday’s filing from the Justice Department follows speculation that the government would not appeal the ruling, since the administration had previously tried to lift the border restrictions on its own.


The administration initially asked for a five-week delay while it prepared to implement the ruling, and last week said it was still deciding whether to appeal.

The border policy, which was issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has allowed agents to turn back asylum-seekers for more than two years.

The Justice Department in the filing Wednesday said that it “will be filing a notice of appeal forthwith” to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, as well as issuing a regulation to address some of the issues Sullivan had with the initial Title 42 order. That notice to appeal was filed several minutes later.

The lawyers added that the government “respectfully disagrees with this Court’s decision” and would argue on appeal that the Title 42 order is “valid” and that Sullivan was wrong to strike it down — essentially in an effort to preserve the CDC’s authorities at the border.

However, the government will seek to delay its own appeal as it prepares to lift the Title 42 policy later this month.