Under this policy, tens of thousands of asylum seekers have been forced to wait for their US court dates in Mexico.
U.S. Supreme Court is reviewing President Joe Biden’s attempt to reverse a hardline immigration policy begun under his predecessor, Donald Trump, that forced tens of thousands of migrants to stay in Mexico to await U.S. hearings on their asylum applications.
The highest court judges heard oral arguments Tuesday in a Biden administration appeal of a lower court ruling that reinstated the “stay in Mexico” policy after the states of Texas and Republican-led Missouris have sued to keep the program.
Biden suspended the policy shortly after taking office last year.
The Trump administration imposed the program, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), in 2019 in an effort to deter what it called frivolous asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border.
The program prevented about 70,000 migrants, including asylum seekers fearing persecution in their home countries, from being released in the United States to await immigration processing, instead returning them to Mexico.
Immigration advocates and progressive members of Biden’s Democratic Party have criticized the MPP, saying it forces migrants to wait in Mexican border towns where they face high rates of violence and other human rights abuses. rights, including kidnappings. The program also made it difficult for migrants to access US lawyers.
On Tuesday, dozens of immigrant rights activists held a rally outside the Supreme Court in Washington, DC, setting up flowers with the message “safe not stranded.”
“The Biden v. Texas case is a critical moment for our democracy as the Supreme Court will decide whether the states of Texas and Missouri can undermine our laws and the will of millions of voters,” said Tami Goodlette, director of the litigation at The Refugee. and Immigration Center for Legal Education and Services (RAICES), said at the rally.
“Our laws are crystal clear: anyone who arrives at our border has the right to seek asylum and a person who fears persecution cannot be sent to a place where they are in danger,” Goodlette said.
—Taylor Levy (@taylorklevy) April 26, 2022
The hearing took place shortly before the United States ended another key Trump-era border restriction known as Title 42, which allowed authorities to quickly deport most claimants. asylum seekers arriving seeking protection under the guise of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Biden administration plans to end Title 42 on May 23, but the move is legally challenged by 22 states.
The case over the Stay in Mexico program centers on how much discretion the Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority, thinks Biden and his administration need to change course on immigration policy.
In its appeal to the judges, the administration said it was “forced to reinstate and continue indefinitely a controversial policy” that exposes migrants to security risks, harms U.S. relations with Mexico and n is not the best tool to deter undocumented border crossings.
The administration also said lower courts were unacceptably interfering with the historically broad authority U.S. presidents have had over immigration and foreign affairs — a principle the Supreme Court has long endorsed, including in cases where Trump was president.
The number of migrants caught crossing the US-Mexico border has reached record highs, and Republicans have criticized Biden’s immigration policies while claiming the “Stay in Mexico” policy has effectively deterred migration.
Texas and Missouri have taken issue with the Biden administration’s efforts to drop the policy, including a memo ending the program issued last June.
After a federal judge reinstated the program in early December last year, the administration made some changes at Mexico’s request. He pledged to try to resolve the cases within six months and agreed to meet the costs of shuttle migrants to and from the border for hearings.
Since the program was reinstated, nearly 2,200 asylum seekers have been registered with the MPP through the end of March. The majority come from Nicaragua.