The Supreme Court of Justice denied this Thursday to the states of Texas and Missouri an appeal that demanded to keep ‘Stay in Mexico’ in force, giving an important victory to the government of President Joe Biden, putting an end to the process that allowed the US border authorities sending asylum seekers to Mexican territory.
In a 5-4 decision, the highest court ruled in favor of a request filed to clarify the question of whether the federal government can continue to enforce the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) created by the Donald Trump administration or else that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) could end the program, which is what the highest court decided this Thursday.
The program was reinstated in December following the order of a federal judge in Texas, who in August ruled in favor of a lawsuit brought by Texas and Missouri, both governed by Republicans, who alleged that the cancellation of the protocol violated the Administrative Procedure Act ( APA) by not taking into account the opinion of the states.
They also argued that the cancellation of the controversial program and the release of migrants who come seeking asylum cause significant harm to states.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) argued two questions in the request: (1) If Section 8 of the United States Code number 1225 requires that the DHS continue to implement the also known ‘Stay in Mexico’ plan; and (2) Whether the appeals court was wrong in concluding that the Secretary of Homeland Security’s new decision ending MPP “had no legal effect.”
Point to Focus
In the ruling, the Supreme Court holds that the Biden Administration’s decision to terminate the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) did not violate federal immigration law and the October memorandum issued by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) was an agency’s final action.
“The decision is correct since the government had the power to terminate the MPP without violating the Immigration Act (INA), said José Guerrero, an immigration attorney practicing in Miami, Florida.
“Asylum applicants will no longer have to be returned to Mexico to wait for their hearings in the United States Immigration Court, as was done until now,” he added. Guerrero further said that “with this 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court made it clear that the Biden administration did not violate immigration law.”
A Praising Decision
The reactions to the ruling in favor of the cancellation of the “Stay in Mexico” program were immediate. “The Supreme Court decision to return Biden vs. Texas to the lower court is a welcome development. However, it does mean that the fight to help that fleeing persecution and seeking protection continues,” said Krish O’Mara Vignarajah, President and CEO of the Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS).
The organization said the MPP “has been used at least 70,000 times to send asylum seekers back to Mexico until their cases are heard in US courts.”
People forced to return to Mexico have often waited in dangerous and even deadly conditions since the policy was first enacted in 2019.
History of the MPP
In 2018, the then Trump government announced the creation of the MPP, a program that was part of the “zero tolerance” program and that affected the asylum policy approved by Congress.
The plan allows border agents to return asylum seekers to Mexico during their immigration procedures. The wait for the resolution of their cases depends on the traffic jam in the Immigration Court, which in 2018 was just over 1,100,000 cases.
At the end of April, the accumulation of files exceeded 1.7 million cases.
The program was sued in the courts, a legal dispute that escalated to the Supreme Court that allowed the previous government to continue implementing it.
In June of last year, the Biden White House announced the end of the program, but the states of Texas and Missouri, both governed by Republicans, contested Biden’s attempt to undo the program on the grounds that canceling the policy “violated federal law.” of immigration”.
They also argued that the policy change violated the Administrative Procedure Law (APA) by not taking into account the opinion of the states and because of the effects that the cancellation of the MPP would have on them.
A federal district court agreed with the plaintiff states’ arguments and ordered the government to implement the MPP in good faith or initiate a new DHS action under the APA.
In turn, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to block the lower court’s ruling, as did the Supreme Court.
In December the government reactivated the MPP in compliance with a court order issued in August by a Texas judge. But unlike the original program, this time the Border Patrol said it had “new protocols” to make it more humane and consistent with Biden’s immigration policy.
The MPP operated between January 2019 and January 2021.
In a memo dated December 2 and sent to the directors of the federal agencies involved in the implementation of the MPP (USCIS, ICE, CBP, and the Office of Operations Coordination), the DHS said that it had carried out a series of modifications in response to demands made by Mexico to improve the program and ensure the safety of immigrants seeking asylum in the United States.