The Supreme Court is keeping pandemic-era limits on asylum in place for now, dashing hopes of migrants fleeing violence and inequality in Latin America and elsewhere to reach the United States.
Tuesday's ruling preserves a Trump-era policy that was scheduled to expire under a judge's order on 21 December.
The limits, often known as Title 42, were put in place under former President Donald Trump at the beginning of the pandemic.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attempted to end the policy in April. But a federal judge in Louisiana sided with 19 Republican-led states in May to keep it in place.
Another federal judge in Washington said in November that Title 42 must end, sending the dispute to the Supreme Court. Officials have expelled asylum-seekers inside the United States 2.5 million times to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Immigration advocates sued to end the policy, saying it 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 They’ve also argued that the policy is outdated as COVID-19 treatments improve.
“We are deeply disappointed for all the desperate asylum seekers who will continue to suffer because of Title 42, but we will continue fighting to eventually end the policy,” American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Lee Gelernt said.
The Supreme Court's decision said that the court will review the issue of whether the states have the right to intervene in the legal fight over Title 42.
The policy will remain in place until the Supreme court hears arguments in February.
And it won't make its final decision until the spring, keeping tens of thousands of people in limbo on the border for months to come.
For more watch Euronews' report in the video above.