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Immigration

Supreme Court ends Remain in Mexico program, rules migrants seeking asylum can wait in U.S.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled President Joe Biden can reverse former President Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, which mandated U.S. officials detain asylum applicants from Latin America or deny them access to the United States until their applications are approved

Inmigración
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June 30, 2022 2:59pm

Updated: June 30, 2022 3:46pm

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled President Joe Biden can reverse former President Trump’s ‘Remain in Mexico’ program, which mandated U.S. officials detain asylum applicants from Latin America or deny them access to the United States until their applications are approved. 

The Court announced the decision in Biden v. Texas Thursday morning.

The Trump-era ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’, originally implemented in 2019 raised ire from Democrats when it was first implemented, but their challenges were ineffective in amidst the coronavirus pandemic and the administration’s use of public-health orders under Title 42. Biden has continued utilizing Title 42, and has received mixed reactions from his fellow Democrats, some of whom want it repealed while others want it to remain in place.

Amidst what many have considered to be the most significant immigration crisis at the U.S. southern border, the Biden administration has repeatedly asserted that the Trump-era Remain in Mexico program made asylum applicants vulnerable and unsafe. Biden’s top officials have said they believe hiring more hearing officers will help reduce processing time to six months from current stalls that have lasted as much as years.

The Biden administrations attempt to remove the Migrant Protection Protocols were challenged by Republican states such as Mississippi, Missouri and Texas, and lower courts initially preserved it.

Among their many reasons for keeping the policy in place, prior rulings have relied on federal law which says noncitizens who enter the U.S. illegally “shall be detained” during proceedings and another says those who cross the border by land can be returned to the country they entered from.

Federal authorities have reportedly struggled to fulfill legal requirements as there has been a shortage of housing facility space and beds in migrant detention centers.

“The facts have sort of overtaken the law,” Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts said during April oral arguments.

The Court considered several factors, namely whether federal law allows the government to release immigration detainees in the United States “on a case-by-case basis for urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

“The Biden administration argued that the public benefit of releasing some migrants was preserving beds in immigration lockups for noncitizens considered a particular security risk, such as those with criminal records,” reported the Wall Street Journal.

The newspaper also reported that, “after the [Trump-era] policy was announced, border crossings fell sharply. But migrants sent back to Mexico faced a range of dangers, including assault, kidnapping and murder, according to reports from human-rights groups and internal Department of Homeland Security reports.

“The Trump administration argued Remain in Mexico was necessary because it reduced incentives to migrate, as those making asylum claims wouldn’t be allowed to live and work in the U.S. while they wait for their cases to be resolved, a process that routinely took years. Monthly border crossings fell by about 75% in the six months following their peak in May 2019, when the program was expanded border-wide.”

 

In its argument for the Biden administration, the Justice Department asserted that U.S. immigration law gave the administration discretion on a case-by-case basis to decide whether it wanted return migrants to Mexico while their asylum claims were pending or permit them to wait in the United States.

The federal government “has long exercised discretion to choose how best to allocated limited resources by prioritizing which noncitizens to take into custody and remove,” lawyers for DOJ the justices during oral arguments.