The Biden administration has been blocked from suspending an immigration policy that requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico before their hearings.
United States District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas ruled on Dec. 15 that the “Remain in Mexico” policy must be restored following over a year of litigation.
The policy – formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols program – was enacted under President Donald Trump. Approximately 70,000 immigrants applying for asylum in the US had to wait in Mexico after the program began in January 2019.
President Joe Biden suspended the program on his first day in office.
In his 35-page ruling, Kacsmaryk said the president’s administration “failed to consider the benefits of the policy, including reducing illegal immigration and ‘unmeritorious asylum claims’” and “mentioned conditions that migrants might face while in Mexico but not the hardships they face ‘when making the dangerous journey to the southern border’ in the first place,” reports AZ Central.
The judge also said the Biden administration had failed to consider the financial burden ending the policy would have on other states. Both Texas and Missouri have argued that terminating the MPP program would “increased numbers of migrants using their states’ social services,” per CBS News.
Kacsmaryk previously paused a memo issued by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ordering the termination of the policy. His 2021 ruling permitted Customs and Border Patrol to resume enforcing the policy for about eight months.
Then, in June, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that the federal government could end the policy. Justices John Roberts, Brett Kavanaugh, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Stephen Breyer found that the lower court had overreached in its ruling and noted that both Mexico and the US wanted to end the policy.
Justice Samuel Alito authored the dissenting opinion and was joined by Justices Clarence Thomas and Neil Gorsuch. Justice Amy Coney Barrett also offered a dissenting opinion.
Alito stated the DHS’s preference to release illegal immigrants into the country “violates the clear terms of the law” and that, by permitting the department to do so, the Supreme Court “looks the other way.”
“Due to the huge numbers of aliens who attempt to enter illegally from Mexico, DHS does not have the capacity to detain all inadmissible aliens encountered at the border, and no one suggests that DHS must do the impossible,” Alito wrote, per NBC News. “But rather than avail itself of Congress’s clear statutory alternative to return inadmissible aliens to Mexico while they await proceedings in this country, DHS has concluded that it may forgo that option altogether and instead simply release into this country untold numbers of aliens who are very likely to be removed if they show up for their removal hearings.”
Republican lawmakers have advocated for the MPP program, which they contend helps decrease illegal immigration at the US-Mexico Border. During Biden’s time in office, more than 5.5 million illegal immigrants have been encountered by border authorities.
Democrats oppose “Remain in Mexico,” arguing the policy violates the right of asylum seekers.