The Supreme Court on Thursday cleared the way for the Biden administration to end the so-called “Stay in Mexico” policy, a rule first implemented under former President Donald Trump that required migrants arriving at the southern border to outside the US waiting for their asylum hearings.
In a 5-4 opinion written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court rejected arguments from Republican-led states seeking to force officials to adhere to policies. memo ending the program should have been considered by lower courts.
Judges Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Stephen Breyer and Brett Kavanaugh joined the Chief Justice in siding with the Biden administration in the case, known as Biden v. Texas. Judges Samuel Alito and Amy Comey Barrett filed separate dissenting opinions, some of which were joined by Judges Neil Gorsuch and Clarence Thomas.
In his opinion, Roberts overturned a December 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that forced border officials to revive the Remain in Mexico rules, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols. Roberts said the 1996 law authorizing the program does not require officials to return migrants to Mexico, but simply gives them the ability to do so, pointing to the use of the word “can” in the statute.
If Congress had intended the law to require asylum seekers to be returned to Mexico, Roberts wrote, “it would not have conveyed that intent by an unstated inference inconsistent with the unequivocal, explicit term ‘may’.”
In his dissent, Alito said he agreed with the majority of the court that lower courts did not have the power to order the Biden government to reinstate Remain in Mexico, but cited several disagreements with Roberts’ ruling. Alito said the government does not have the authority to release large numbers of migrants and is not returning to Mexico.
In August 2021, a federal judge overseeing a lawsuit by Republican officials in Texas and Missourithe Biden administration to revive Remain in Mexico rules, finding that a June memo from Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas to end the policy was legally inadequate.
US Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, demanded that the administration implement the “Remain in Mexico” protocols “in good faith” until they were properly terminated and until the government had established sufficient reception facilities to detain all migrants covered by the 1996 Detention Act.
In response, Mayorkasa more comprehensive memo in October to try to end the MPP policy a second time. But Kacsmaryk’s statement was later by the 5th Circuit, which refused to consider Mayorkas’s second resignation note.
The legal setbacks forced the Biden government to revive Remain in Mexico in December, though itthe program, which required officials to ask migrants if they feared persecution in Mexico before sending them there, offered enrollees coronavirus vaccines and exempted certain groups from the policy, including asylum seekers with serious medical conditions, the elderly and members of the LGBTQ community. community.
Since December, the Biden administration has implemented Remain in Mexico on a limited scale, with 7,259 migrants included in the program at the end of May, government data shows. During the same period, US officials along the southern border processed migrants more than 1 million times, according to figures from DHS.
The Trump administration used the MPP policy to send 70,000 migrants back to Mexico, many of whom lived in squalid camps near the US border. Human rights workers recorded hundreds of reports of attacks on migrants waiting in Mexico, including in areas the US government is warning Americans not to visit because of widespread crime and kidnappings.
The Trump administration said MPP prevented migrants seeking better economic opportunities from using the asylum system to stay and work in the US. victimization in Mexico.
Republican lawmakers have attributed the unprecedented number of migrant arrests in the past year to the Biden administration’s decision to end Remain in Mexico rules and other Trump-era border restrictions.
But officials in the Biden administration have argued that the record arrivals at the border are part of a regional displacement crisis triggered by pandemic economic instability, violence, corruption and natural disasters in Latin America.
In May, US Border Patrol agents along the Mexican border registered 222,000 arrests of migrants, a record!† Its parent company, Customs and Border Protection, processed more than 1.5 million migrants in fiscal 2022, which ends at the end of September.
While the MPP policy has been used sparingly since it was revived, the Biden administration has relied on another Trump measure known as Title 42 to quickly evict hundreds of thousands of migrants from the US-Mexico border without allowing them. to apply for asylum.
Since March 2020, the US has cited Title 42, a World War II public health authority, to expel migrants more than 2 million times to Mexico or their homeland, statistics from the Department of Homeland Security show.
The Biden administration tried to end Title 42 in May citing improving pandemic conditions, but Republican-led states convinced a federal judge in Louisiana to require officials to continue the evictions. The judge, also appointed by Trump, said the policy had been wrongly terminated.