Supreme Court allows Trump to enforce 'Remain in Mexico' policy

The Supreme Court on Wednesday allowed the Trump administration to continue enforcing a policy that requires asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while their claims are heard.

The justices will allow the “Remain in Mexico” policy to continue while the administration appeals a lower court ruling which deemed the program illegal and ordered a suspension that was scheduled to take effect Thursday.

Justice Sonia SotomayorSonia SotomayorSpeculation swirls about next Supreme Court vacancy Supreme Court grapples with 'faithless electors' and Electoral College Our digital privacy is at stake in the Senate MORE was the only justice to publicly dissent from the decision to allow the policy to continue.

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Known officially as Migrant Protection Protocols, the policy aims to curb entry into the U.S. by asylum-seekers, many of whom are Central American migrants. More than 60,000 asylum-seekers have been barred from entry since the program was implemented just over a year ago, according to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The program has been used to “process tens of thousands of aliens applying for asylum ... without the need to detain the applicants in the United States during the weeks and months it takes to process their applications,” read a court filing that DHS submitted to the justices last week.

Critics of the Trump administration policy say it’s a cruel measure that endangers the lives of those fleeing violence and other hardships.

A federal district court in California last April ruled that the policy violates U.S. immigration law and contravenes international human rights norms. The court ordered the administration to stop the practice along the entire U.S. border.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the lower court’s legal ruling, but the appellate court narrowed the injunction to apply to California and Arizona, the two border states under its jurisdiction. 

The injunction, which was scheduled to take effect Thursday, would have affected those two states, but would not have applied to New Mexico or Texas.

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The White House hailed the Supreme Court's move on Wednesday.

"Today’s order from the Supreme Court is a major victory for the Trump Administration. By allowing the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) to remain in effect, the Court has prevented dangerous chaos at the southern border, avoided a significant escalation in public health threats, and mitigated damage to foreign relations," White House press secretary Stephanie GrishamStephanie GrishamMcEnany: Prayer 'made a lot of difference' in 2016 election McEnany stamps her brand on White House press operation Impeachment figure among those chosen for Facebook's new oversight board MORE said in a statement. 

Updated at 6:04 p.m.