EL PASO, Texas (Border Report) — In a win for President Joe Biden, the Supreme Court ruled Thursday that his administration can end the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
The Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against the state of Texas, which argued that due to resource constraints, the U.S. could not detain people who entered the country illegally and that under the Immigration and Nationality Act, the U.S. could return migrants who arrived on land to that foreign territory pending a proceeding.
Read the ruling:
Justice John Roberts wrote the decision and was joined by fellow conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh as well as the court’s three liberal justices — Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
Texas Attorney General Paxton issued a statement calling the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court unfortunate.
“I believe it was wrongly decided. Over a year ago, Texas and Missouri sued the Biden Administration for illegally abandoning MPP. I won in district court and then won again on appeal. The Administration dragged its feet and refused to implement this effective program in good faith, allowing hundreds of thousands of illegals to pour over the border month after month. Today’s decision makes the border crisis worse. But it’s not the end. I’ll keep pressing forward and focus on securing the border and keeping our communities safe in the dozen other immigration suits I’m litigating in court.”
The “Remain in Mexico” policy, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, forced asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for the duration of their immigration proceedings.
In his statement, Paxton also expressed his agreement with Justice Samuel Alito’s dissent in which he questioned whether the government can guarantee that asylum-seekers who are paroled will appear for their court hearing.
Wrote Alito: “When it appears that one of these aliens is not admissible, may the Government simply release the alien in this country and hope that the alien will show up for the hearing at which his or her entitlement to remain will be decided? Congress has provided a clear answer to that question, and the answer is no. … Those requirements, as we have held, are mandatory.”
The Trump administration implemented MPP in January 2019 to “address the urgent humanitarian and security crisis at the Southern border.”
On Inauguration Day, President Joe Biden suspended the program and later sought to terminate it. Texas and Missouri sued, and a federal judge ordered the Biden administration to reinstate MPP.
The Trump administration sent an estimated 70,000 people back to Mexico. Since early December 2021, under what immigration advocates call MPP 2.0, the Biden administration has sent back far fewer asylum-seekers, with advocates putting the number at about 7,200.
MPP applied to individuals who asked for asylum upon arriving at the southern border, either at a port of entry or areas between ports of entry. Under the program, asylum-seekers were given a Notice to Appear in immigration and instructed to return to specific ports of entry at a specific date and time for their next court hearing. They were then sent back to Mexico.
A criticism of the MPP was that the U.S. government was sending asylum-seekers, including thousands of young children, back to dangerous, crime-ridden Mexican cities like Matamoros, Juarez and Tijuana.
In Matamoros, in the state of Tamaulipas, a massive refugee camp formed at the base of the Gateway International Bridge. Thousands of people, fearful that they would miss a court date or be late, slept in tents in squalid conditions.
In anticipation of an MPP ruling on Monday, migrant advocates on Monday shared stories of rape, assault and kidnapping endured by clients forced to wait in Mexico.
Crystal Sandoval, director of strategic initiatives at Las Americans Immigrant Advocacy Center read letters from clients detailing violence suffered in Juarez, Mexico.
“We were thrown to the streets without the opportunity to state why we were there, why we left our country,” Sandoval spoke on behalf of a 37-year-old woman from Honduras. “In Mexico, I was met with violence, cruelty and worse. I was kidnapped, trafficked and raped. My 9-year-old daughter was witness to this and she herself was sexually abused.”
Immigration experts also found that MPP did not provide due process to migrants.
“The lack of counsel, combined with the danger and insecurity that individuals face in border towns, made it nearly impossible for anyone subject to MPP to successfully win asylum,” the American Immigration Council said. “By December 2020, of the 42,012 MPP cases that had been completed under (Trump), only 521 people were granted relief in immigration court.”
The American Immigration Council said representation rates under both administrations are exceedingly low. Under Biden’s reiteration of MPP, for example, just 7.5 percent of people placed on the program managed to hire a lawyer.