Supreme Court authorizes revival of Trump-era asylum policy

WASHINGTON – The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block a decision by a Texas federal judge demanding that the Biden administration reinstate a Trump-era immigration program that forces asylum seekers arriving at the southwest border to await approval in Mexico.

The brief unsigned court order said the administration appeared to act in an arbitrary and capricious manner in canceling the program, citing a decision last year refusing to let the Trump administration cancel the Obama-era program protecting citizens. young immigrants known as dreamers.

The three more liberal members of the tribunal – Justices Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan – said they would have granted a stay of the trial judge’s decision. They did not give reasons. The case will now be heard by an appeals court and could go back to the Supreme Court.

The disputed program, commonly known as Remain in Mexico and officially known as Migrant Protection Protocols, applies to people who have left a third country and have crossed Mexico to reach the US border. After the policy was put in place in early 2019, tens of thousands of people waited for immigration hearings in unsanitary tent camps exposed to the elements. Numerous cases of sexual assault, kidnapping and torture have been reported.

President Biden suspended and then ended the program. Texas and Missouri sued, saying they were hurt by the termination by having to provide government services such as driver’s licenses to immigrants allowed to enter the United States under the program.

On August 13, Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the North Texas District in Amarillo ruled that federal law required the return of non-national asylum seekers to Mexico whenever the government did not. did not have the resources to hold them.

It was a new reading of the law, Acting Solicitor General Brian H. Fletcher told judges. This view had “never been accepted by any presidential administration since the law was enacted in 1996,” including the Trump administration, he said.

Judge Kacsmaryk has stayed his ruling for a week, and the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has refused to grant the administration a further stay as it pursues an appeal , which prompted an urgent Supreme Court suspension request. Shortly before the ruling came into effect on Friday, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. issued a brief stay to allow the entire Supreme Court to consider the matter.

The Supreme Court has already had meetings with the program. In response to an emergency request from the Trump administration, the court revived the program last year after a federal appeals court blocked it.

The judges then agreed to hear the Trump administration’s appeal against a decision by the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which blocked the law, claiming it was against federal law. and international treaties and caused “extreme and irreversible harm”. “But the Supreme Court dismissed the case in June in response to a request from the Biden administration.

Mr Fletcher urged judges to give the Biden administration the same deference it had given the Trump administration.

“In recent years, this tribunal has repeatedly suspended broad lower court injunctions against executive policies dealing with immigration, foreign policy and migration management issues,” he wrote. “It should do the same here.”

Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU Immigrant Rights Project, said the Biden administration was right to cancel the Stay in Mexico program.

“The government must take all available measures to end this illegal program completely, including ending it with a more comprehensive explanation,” he said in a statement after the Supreme Court ruling. “What he must not do is use this decision as a cover to abandon his commitment to restore a fair asylum system.”

Mr. Fletcher noted that the executive branch had broad authority over immigration. “The district court injunction,” he writes, “does dictate the foreign policy of the United States.”

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