Court Battles

Supreme Court to review push to end ‘remain in Mexico’ policy

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to review a dispute over the Biden administration’s effort to end a controversial Trump-era immigration measure that requires asylum-seekers at the U.S. southern border to stay in Mexico while their applications are processed.

In a brief order, the justices announced they would hear arguments in April over whether the Biden administration must continue the policy despite a determination by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that the measure is not in the United States’ national interest. 

Former President Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy, implemented in 2019, blocked migrants at the Mexican border from entering the U.S. to apply for asylum, leaving tens of thousands of people awaiting their fates in Mexico, according to previous Biden administration estimates.

More than 60,000 asylum-seekers were returned to Mexico under the policy, formally called the Migrant Protection Protocols. That was a departure from previous practice of allowing those fleeing violence to cross the border and apply for asylum within the U.S.

Critics say asylum-seekers often face persecution and abuse upon their return to Mexico.

The Biden administration sought to formally end the Trump-era policy last June in a memorandum issued by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, prompting a legal challenge by the attorneys general of Texas and Missouri.

Texas-based U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, ruled against the Biden administration, finding it had failed to provide a legally adequate rationale for its rescission. He ordered that the policy would have to remain in place until the administration undergoes a lengthy administrative procedure to overturn it.

DHS undertook an additional review of the program, leading Mayorkas in October to order its termination. But a federal appeals court upheld the district court ruling, prompting the Biden administration to appeal in December to the Supreme Court.

“DHS has thus been forced to reinstate and continue implementing indefinitely a controversial policy that the Secretary has twice determined is not in the interests of the United States,” the administration wrote in its December petition for appeal.

A decision in the case, Biden v. Texas, et al., is expected in the summer.

Tags Alejandro Mayorkas Donald Trump Remain in Mexico policy

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