By Amy Howe
March 11, 2020
at 2:38 p.m.
The Supreme Court today granted the Trump administration’s request for permission to apply the Migrant Protection Protocols, colloquially known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, as it appeals to the Supreme Court. Announced in December 2018, the policy allows the Department of Homeland Security to return asylum-seeking immigrants to Mexico pending deportation proceedings. Judge Sonia Sotomayor was the only judge to publicly note that she would have denied the government’s request.
The Trump administration came to the Supreme Court last week after a federal district court in California blocked the government from enforcing the policy anywhere in the United States. The policy, the district court ruled, is likely inconsistent with federal immigration law and the doctrine of international law prohibiting the return of asylum seekers to countries where they might be at risk. The United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld the district court’s decision and barred the government from enforcing the policy in California and Arizona; the 9th Circuit’s order was to go into effect tomorrow.
In the filing last week, US Solicitor General Noel Francisco told judges that Mexico’s stay-in policy had “significantly” reduced the number of migrants attempting to cross the US-Mexico border. But if the 9th Circuit’s order were allowed to go into effect and the policy was lifted, Francisco wrote, tens of thousands of migrants could try to enter the United States, creating “immediate and unmanageable pressure” on the US immigration system.
The Challengers, a group of Central Americans who were returned to Mexico and several organizations that provide services to migrants, pushed back, urging the Supreme Court to keep the policy on hold while the government appeals. Describing the policy as “unprecedented,” the challengers pointed out that the potential problems the government has complained about are largely of its own initiative, as the government “aggressively expanded” the policy of staying in Mexico over the past few years. Last 10 months, while the district court order was pending. And even if the government were right that asylum seekers would flood the border if the policy was lifted, the challengers added, that prospect does not justify keeping the policy in place. Asylum seekers returned to Mexico, the challengers claimed, send them to “some of the most violent parts of the world,” where they face dangers such as kidnapping, assault and rape. Moreover, the protesters continued, the lower court order would not require the government to allow everyone at the border to enter the United States – only the plaintiffs named in the case.
In a brief written order this afternoon, the Supreme Court gave the federal government the green light to continue enforcing the policy while it appeals to the Supreme Court and, if the justices allow the review, until the justices can hear pleadings and render their decision on the merits. A Justice Department spokesperson welcomed the decision, writing that today’s stay “prevents a district court injunction from undermining the security of our borders and the integrity of our justice system.” immigration. Migrant protection protocols, implemented pursuant to express authorization granted by Congress decades ago, have been key to restoring the government’s ability to manage the southwest border and work cooperatively with the government. mexican for fight against illegal immigration.
This post was originally posted on Howe on the Court.