WASHINGTON — After losing a legal battle, the Biden administration tentatively plans a mid-November restart of a Trump-era policy that forces migrant asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court hearings in immigration, according to a filing Thursday night.
President Joe Biden had ended the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy when he took office this year, saying it was inhumane because of the violence migrants faced while waiting for their court hearings in Mexico.
Texas and Missouri sued the Biden administration in April over the suspension of Remain in Mexico, which is officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP. In August, a federal judge in Texas ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the policy pending the outcome of the lawsuit.
The Biden administration fought the order but lost in federal appeals court and the Supreme Court, then said it would comply with the court order.
Senior administration officials told reporters Thursday that under the Biden administration’s updated version of Remain in Mexico, immigrants will get court dates set within a maximum of six months and will attend to hearings with immigration judges at one of 10 courts to be set up near Brownsville. and Laredo, Texas.
Plans to implement the revised policy, however, would be put on hold if the Biden administration ultimately wins the lawsuit brought by Texas and Missouri.
Mexico will also have the power to change the policy, the officials said, and the administration has consulted with it on the details.
“There are some issues that Mexico has also raised regarding the prior implementation” of Remain in Mexico, one of the officials said. “Any reimplementation should take this into account.”
In a statement, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security said, “As stated in the statement filed Thursday, DHS is taking the necessary steps to comply with the court order, which requires us to reapply the MPP of We are working to do so, despite our appeal of the court order, including, for example, entering into contracts to rebuild temporary immigration hearing facilities near the southwestern border.
“Significantly, Mexico is a sovereign nation that must make an independent decision to accept the return of people without status to Mexico under any reapplication of the MPP,” the statement said. “Discussions with the government of Mexico regarding when and how the MPP will be reimplemented are ongoing.”
Stay in Mexico, which the Trump administration launched in January 2019, has created a population boom in migrant camps on the Mexican side of the border. Human rights organizations have documented hundreds of kidnappings, rapes and assaults of migrants waiting in the sprawling camps for their asylum hearings.
The Biden administration has continued to implement — and defend in another court case — Covid-19 restrictions known as Title 42, which push immigrants back to Mexico or deport them to their home countries without give them court dates. Officials said the administration would continue to use this policy and only immigrants who are not subject to Title 42 — for various reasons — would be subject to Remain in Mexico.