The Supreme Court on Wednesday canceled courtroom arguments scheduled for the next few weeks on two aspects of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policy — a reflection of the new administration’s reversal on both issues.
The court agreed to the Justice Department’s request to remove from the trial schedule two appeals by the Trump administration against lower court rulings, one against the use of Pentagon money to build the border wall south and the other against making immigrants wait in Mexico instead of the United States.
Halting the wall project was one of the first actions President Joe Biden took after being sworn in.
“It will be the policy of my administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to build a border wall,” Biden wrote in a proclamation signed Jan. 20.
The Department of Homeland Security under Biden has stopped enforcing the Trump administration’s policy of returning asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala across the border to Mexico in instead of allowing them to wait in the United States for their case to be heard.
From late January 2019 until the program was suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic, more than 68,700 people were returned to Mexico under what the government called the Migrant Protection Program.
Acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar on Monday asked the court to remove the two cases from the schedule and “keep the proceedings pending.” The border wall case was due to be heard on February 22, with the “stay in Mexico” case to be heard a week later on March 1.
Both cases are still pending but will likely be dismissed as moot, since Biden’s Justice Department will not defend any facet of Trump’s immigration policy.
A federal appeals court ruled last June that the government had improperly embezzled $2.5 billion money from the Pentagon’s anti-drug program to build over 100 miles of border wall. The court said only Congress could approve such a transfer.
Trump ordered the use of Defense Department money after a fight over his budget led to a partial government shutdown. It ended after Democrats approved money for building the border wall, but considerably less than the president wanted.
Biden ordered a 60-day pause in construction work and ordered the government to review existing contracts and funding.