US Supreme Court Rules Biden Admin Must Reinstate 'Remain in Mexico' Immigration Policy
23:46 GMT 24.08.2021 (Updated: 00:27 GMT 25.08.2021)
In a Tuesday ruling, the US Supreme Court said that a federal judge's order to reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), better known as the "Remain in Mexico" policy, had to be followed. The decision is a major blow to US President Joe Biden's immigration reform promises.
Earlier this month, US District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the US District Court for the Northern District of Texas ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the MPP policy, which the US Department of Homeland Security formally ended in June. The policy requires asylum applicants to await the decision on their application outside the United States, which in practice means huge number of people waiting to enter the US accumulate in camps on the Mexican side of the US-Mexico border.
The US states of Texas and Missouri, which brought the case before him, had argued the Biden administration failed to use proper administrative procedures in ending the policy - a common claim made by supporters of former US President Donald Trump's immigration policies, which Biden campaigned on ending.
Kacsmaryk agreed, arguing that the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 constrains the administration's immigration policy into one of two possible courses of action: either every applicant must await their decision outside of the country or be detained in US custody.
In response, the US Department of Justice appealed to a higher court for a stay on Kacsmaryk's order, and when the appellate court refused, the DOJ went to the Supreme Court.
"The application for a stay presented to [US Supreme Court Justice Samuel] Alito and by him referred to the Court is denied," the Supreme Court said in a brief memo on Tuesday. "The applicants failed to show a likelihood of success on the claim that the memorandum rescinding the Migrant Protection Protocols was not arbitrary and capricious."
The memo notes that the court's three liberal members - Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor - dissented from the decision.
Ending the highly unpopular MPP was at the top of the list on Biden's policy agenda upon taking office, and the directive to halt applications was among the slew of Day 1 executive orders he issued. However, the program had been on hold since early 2020, when then-US President Donald Trump paused it in the interest of limiting COVID-19 cases. In December 2020 there were approximately 23,000 pending MPP cases, according to the watchdog group Human Rights First, whose yearslong wait across the border in Mexico exposed them to numerous dangers and was described as "a humanitarian disgrace and a legal travesty."