by: MARK SHERMAN, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is giving the Biden administration a speedy hearing on its efforts to abandon a Trump-era border policy that has asylum seekers in Mexico waiting for hearings in the U.S. immigration.
The justices agreed on Friday to hear the administration’s appeal of lower court rulings that forced it to reinstate the “stay in Mexico” policy that former President Donald Trump introduced in 2019. The arguments will take place in April, with a decision expected at the end of June.
President Joe Biden suspended the program, officially called Migrant Protection Protocols, on his first day in office and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ended it in June 2021.
But after the Republican-led states of Missouri and Texas filed suit over Biden’s action, a federal judge ordered the policy reinstated and a three-judge court panel call accepted. The district judge and two of the three appellate judges are appointed by Trump.
Mayorkas acknowledged that the “Remain in Mexico” policy likely contributed to a drop in illegal border crossings in 2019, but said the reduction came with “substantial and unjustifiable human costs” for asylum seekers who been exposed to violence while waiting in Mexico.
The program resumed, but slowly. Since its restart in December, 572 people had been returned to Mexico through February 13, according to the UN migration agency.
Both the Trump and Biden administrations have used a separate authority, aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, to deport more than 1.5 million migrants since March 2020 without giving them the chance to seek asylum.