The US Supreme Court issued a ruling, allowing US President Joe Biden to remove the Remain in Mexico policy. The ruling is considered a victory for migrants, NGOs and civil organizations, since the policy was accused of violating human rights. However, others fear that the arrival of migrants will increase, exacerbating the humanitarian crisis at the US-Mexico border.
Yesterday, the Supreme Court ruled that Biden has the authority to oversee the US-Mexico border’s immigration procedures, with which he can continue his efforts to end the Remain in Mexico policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). The policy began during the Trump administration of and forced asylum seekers to stay in Mexico until their immigration hearing date in the US.
In the majority opinion, US Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that Biden's efforts to end the MPP policy did not violate US law, as attorneys from Texas and Missouri contended. Roberts explained that Biden's actions to revoke the policy could still be challenged and sent to lower courts for further proceedings. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the court's decision will worsen the border crisis, so he will seek to block it again. "This is not the end. I will go ahead and focus on securing the border and keeping our communities safe via the dozen other immigration lawsuits I am litigating in court. The Supreme Court of the United States decided incorrectly,” he said.
The court’s ruling comes after a smuggling incident that killed 53 migrants trapped in a trailer in San Antonio, Texas. Migration experts and migrant advocates said policies like the MPP further expose migrants to dangerous border crossings. “The Supreme Court’s decision paves the way for the Biden Administration to adopt a more orderly immigration process at the border. Remain in Mexico was a failure. It dealt with asylum seekers so inhumanely that rather than ‘remaining in Mexico,’ they repeatedly crossed the border illegally,” said David Bier, Associate Director of Immigration Policy, Cato Institute.
In the past, asylum seekers had been allowed to wait for their immigration trial in the US. However, in 2019, the Trump administration implemented MPP to "reduce the number of aliens taking advantage of the law from the US and discourage false asylum applications." President Joe Biden halted the MPP policy during his first days in office, a decision celebrated by immigrant advocates that said the policy was "cruel, depraved and illegal."
However, on June 13, 2021, US Federal District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmarys ordered US authorities to implement and enforce the Remain in Mexico policy. Kacsmarys explained that the decision to formally end the policy violated US federal administrative law because it did not consider its benefits such as how it served as a deterrent for migrants who do not meet the requirements to request asylum. In addition, Kacsmarys said that the Biden administration also violated US immigration law, as there is not enough detaining capacity to receive these migrants.
In December 2021, US and Mexican governments agreed to reinstate the Remain in Mexico policy. Roberto Velasco Álvarez, Head, the US Unit of the Mexican Foreign Ministry, said the Mexican government agreed to re-implement the MPP only because the US government made major changes to the program and improved humanitarian conditions for migrants. Nevertheless, the reinstatement of the policy has been widely criticized by NGOs. Since December, more than 5,000 migrants have been returned to Mexico.