The Slatest

Supreme Court Orders Biden to Restart Trump-Era “Remain in Mexico” Immigration Policy

Asylum seekers from Guatemala sit on the Mexican side of a US-Mexico border crossing.
Asylum seekers from Guatemala sit on the Mexican side of a US-Mexico border crossing. GUILLERMO ARIAS/Getty Images

The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, ordered that the Biden administration must adhere to the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy that requires many asylum seekers remain outside the country while their claims are decided. In an unsigned order, the Court refused to block a lower court ruling that the Migrant Protection Protocols, as they’re formally known, be immediately reimplemented. The rationale behind the lower court ruling is that the Biden administration had failed to show that the federal policy change was not arbitrary or capricious, the same legal reasoning that was deployed to slow and derail some of the most noxious Trump policies on a host of immigration issues.

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The Biden administration ended the 2019 Trump policy of barring asylum seekers on the southern border from entering the country while their cases were being heard. The suspension of the policy prompted the state of Texas to file a federal lawsuit claiming that the move put undue burden on the state to provide services to expectant asylum seekers. The Trump policy has meant that tens of thousands of migrants are in limbo on the other side of the border, where there have been reports of dangerous conditions.

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The federal court ruling against the administration was stayed by a week and an emergency application was filed with the Supreme Court after an appeals court refused to extend the stay and allow the case to make its way through the legal system. Over the objections of the court’s liberal justices, the Supreme Court concurred with the lower court’s assessment that the Biden administration had failed to show adequate reason to end the policy and had not exhibited that it would likely succeed in proving its case.

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“[I]n its order Tuesday night, the court cited a decision from 2020 in which it stopped the Trump administration from dismantling the Obama-era program Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which protected undocumented immigrants who were brought into the country as children,” the Washington Post notes. “In that case, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. sided with the court’s liberals in saying the Trump administration had failed to show that ending the program was not arbitrary and capricious… The difference is that decision was made after full briefing and argument, rather than on an emergency request to maintain the status quo while appeals continue.” The Biden administration said it intends to abide by the law, as it appeals the lower court ruling.

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