Stamford Advocate

Supreme Court orders ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy reinstated


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block a court ruling ordering the Biden administra­tion to reinstate a Trump-era policy that forces people to wait in Mexico while seeking asylum in the U.S.

With the three liberal justices in dissent, the court said the administra­tion likely violated federal law in its efforts to rescind the program informally known as Remain in Mexico.

It’s not clear how many people will be affected and how quickly. Under the lower court ruling, the administra­tion must make a “good faith effort” to restart the program.

A federal judge in Texas had previously ordered that the program, formally called Migrant Protection Protocols, be reinstated last week. Both he and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused the administra­tion’s request to put the ruling on hold.

Justice Samuel Alito ordered a brief delay to allow the full court time to consider the administra­tion’s appeal to keep the ruling on hold while the case continues to make its way through the courts.

The 5th Circuit ordered expedited considerat­ion of the administra­tion’s appeal.

The court offered little explanatio­n for its action, although it cited its opinion from last year rejecting the Trump administra­tion’s effort to end another immigratio­n program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

In that case, the court held that the decision to end DACA was “arbitrary and capricious,” in violation of federal law.

The administra­tion has “failed to show a likelihood of success on the claim that the memorandum rescinding the Migrant Protection Protocols was not arbitrary and capricious,“the court wrote Tuesday in an unsigned order.

The three dissenting justices did not write an opinion expressing their views of the case.

During Donald Trump’s presidency, the policy required tens of thousands of migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to turn back to Mexico. It was meant to discourage asylum seekers but critics said it denied people the legal right to seek protection in the U.S. and forced them to wait in dangerous Mexican border cities.

The judge, U.S. District Judge Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, ordered that the program be reinstated

in response to a lawsuit filed by the states of Texas and Missouri, whose governors have been seeking to reinstate some of the hardline anti-immigratio­n policies of the Trump administra­tion.

The Biden administra­tion argued in briefs that the president has “clear authority to determine immigratio­n policy” and that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas had discretion in deciding whether to return asylum seekers to Mexico.

The Trump administra­tion largely stopped using the “Remain in Mexico” policy at the start of the pandemic, at which point it began turning back virtually everyone crossing the Southwest border under a different protocol — a public health order that remains in effect. The Biden administra­tion said the pre-pandemic policy had been “largely dormant” for months even before the outbreak of COVID-19.

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