The US will halt a pandemic policy that allowed migrants to be swiftly expelled over concerns about spreading Covid-19.
The policy known as Title 42 will end on 23 May after more than two years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said on Friday.
Aimed at stopping virus spread in migrant holding facilities, the Trump policy was twice extended by President Joe Biden.
Over 1.7 million people have been expelled under the policy.
Mr Biden had been under pressure from his party to end the controversial order, with critics arguing that its public health benefits failed to outweigh harm to the rights of migrants.
Enacted by former President Trump in March 2020, it allows US authorities to expel migrants seeking asylum without being given the chance to put forward their case. Children and some families are exempt.
Though Mr Biden had pledged to reverse Trump-era immigration policies while in office, the CDC under his administration extended Title 42 in August 2021, and again in January, due to the delta and omicron variants, respectively.
On Friday, the CDC said that it was ready to rescind the policy given the current, more favourable public health outlook and after consulting with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
“After considering current public health conditions and an increased availability of tools to fight Covid-19 (such as highly effective vaccines and therapeutics), the CDC Director has determined that an Order suspending the right to introduce migrants into the United States is no longer necessary,” it said.
Immigration rights advocates applauded the move. Friday’s announcement marked a “momentous day for immigrant rights activists, immigrants, and refugees everywhere,” Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said, while Murad Awawdeh of New York Immigration Coalition called it a “long-overdue” step.
However, Republicans – and some Democrats – warned that repealing Title 42 could lead to a surge in migrants at the US-Mexico border.
James Comer, a Republican Kentucky congressman, called the move “reckless” and Democratic senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema, from the border state of Arizona, said they were sceptical that a plan was in place to address migrant applications at the border.