Authorities are using COVID to justify student loan payment pause extensions and Title 42

Authorities cite COVID-19 as justification for student loan suspension extensions and immigrant deportation order. COVID-19 is still here, but the pandemic – a threat so pervasive and severe that it requires a large-scale reorganization of society – is over. This has long been the position of Republicans, and lately even President Joe Biden has agreed. And yet…both sides are still using the pandemic as an excuse for extraordinary political action.

For Democrats in particular but also for Republicans, the COVID-19 pandemic is over except when it is politically convenient to say it is not. It’s over, except when it comes to justifying programs they like and don’t otherwise have the support or authority to enact.

For the Biden administration, that means suspending the student loan repayment requirement. The legal challenges have halted Biden’s plan to completely write off much of the student loan debt, which his administration cynically describes as some kind of cruel obstacle to their benevolence, rather than how our democratic process works. The administration has therefore once again extended a moratorium on the collection of student loan repayments that was first issued at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. The payment moratorium – which has now been extended nine times, including six times under President Biden – was due to expire on January 1, 2023. It will now be extended to 60 days after the court cases over the plan are resolved. debt cancellation or, if not resolved by the end of next June, 60 days after that.

For Republicans, that means fighting to keep in place an immigrant deportation measure known as Title 42 — also invoked at the start of the coronavirus pandemic to justify extraordinary policy. As part of the Public Health Services Act, it states that the federal government can take emergency action to stop the spread of the disease. The Trump administration has cited it as grounds for the immediate deportation of migrants caught crossing U.S. borders and for denying those migrants the chance to seek asylum.

“Between March 2020 and August 2022, U.S. border officials conducted more than 2 million deportations of Title 42 migrants,” noted Raison‘s Fiona Harrigan recently. “Former CDC Director Robert Redfield extended the Title 42 order for a month and then indefinitely. The Biden administration at times fought to keep the order in place, then attempted to void, to be challenged by a federal judge.”

Earlier this month, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia overturned the order. Under the decision, it would cease to apply on December 21.

Today, 15 states, all but one led by Republicans, have filed petitions to intervene in the case, which would allow them to fight to keep the immigrant deportation order in place. The petition was filed by the attorneys general of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, from South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wyoming.

Even though Republican leaders have largely opposed expanding public health measures due to pandemic concerns, these states still cite COVID-19 as justification for keeping immigrants out. States have an interest in “excluding people with communicable diseases,” their motion says.

“States mistakenly believe Title 42 can be used for general border enforcement,” said Lee Gelernt of the American Civil Liberties Union. The New York Times. “But this is a limited public health provision, and these states have not shown remotely that they need Title 42 for public health reasons.”


A questionable consensus on the treatment of autism. In The Boston Globe, John Summers takes a fascinating look at the evidence — or lack thereof — guiding the treatment of children with autism in America. Known as Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), it is based on the discredited theories of behaviorist BF Skinner.

“Legislatures in most states, including Massachusetts, have responded to the rapid acceleration of autism diagnoses by mandating ABA insurance coverage,” Summers notes. “Early Intervention, a federally funded program serving children from birth to age 3, refers children diagnosed with autism to ABA programs.”

And yet, there is little data on the actual effectiveness of ABA programs, and based on Summer’s own experience with an autistic son, that is not the case. “To my knowledge, only one large-scale outcome analysis has been undertaken by the government,” Summers writes:

This is the U.S. Department of Defense’s “Autism Care Demonstration,” a multi-year assessment of claims made under the military insurance program. “The Department remains very concerned,” the 2021 report concluded, as “nearly half of participants show no change or worsening symptoms after two years of ABA services.” The data showed no correlation between treatment intensity and outcome. Among the improvements attributed to ABA, the Pentagon report questioned whether they were “clinically meaningful.” The ABA’s own research standards, according to the report, “fall short of our hierarchy of standards of evidence for medical and proven care.”

Read it all here.


Fauci will be deposed in a social media case today. Anthony Fauci is to be deposed today in a case accusing the Biden administration of improperly pressuring social media companies to suppress information about COVID-19. The case was filed by the attorneys general of Missouri and Louisiana (both Republicans). “We all deserve to know how involved Dr. Fauci was in censoring the American people during the COVID pandemic,” Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry said in a statement yesterday. “Tomorrow, I hope to find out.”


• Seven people were killed after a gunman opened fire on a Walmart in Chesapeake, Virginia.

• The United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit rules that the Horse Racing Integrity and Safety Authority, created by Congress in 2020, is unconstitutional, representing “the conferral of governmental power on a private entity that is not accountable to the people”.

• Mandatory life sentences for minors convicted of certain crimes are unconstitutional, says Tennessee Supreme Court.

• Ohioan Dean Gillispie was awarded $45 million in a wrongful imprisonment lawsuit. Gillispie “sued Miami Township Police and former Detective Scott Moore for suppressing evidence and altering eyewitness identifications in the 1991 rape and kidnapping case against Gillispie,” notes USA today. Moore’s moves sent Gillispie to jail for more than 20 years.

• New York has just enacted a two-year moratorium on cryptocurrency mining.

• “Britain’s Supreme Court has ruled that the Scottish government cannot unilaterally hold a second referendum on whether to secede from the UK, in a blow to pro-independence campaigners that will be welcomed by the establishment pro-union Westminster,” reports CNN.

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