The Supreme Court has ruled that President Biden violated federal law by ending the Remain in Mexico policy. Here's what you should know.
What Is Remain in Mexico?
During his presidency, Former President Donald Trump issued a policy that required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while their cases were pending in the immigration court system. Asylum seekers who arrived at the border would be turned away and forced to turn around and wait for the final decision on their case.
Many immigration activists were outraged by this policy and called for its removal immediately. Within the first year of President Biden's presidency, he ruled to overturn the decision and allow asylum seekers to stay in the U.S. while their cases were still pending.
Why They Did It
A federal judge in Texas ordered the return of the policy as a part of the state's harsh stance on immigration. In recent months, the Lone Star State has been at the center of controversy as lawmakers push for more regulations and restrictions on immigrants coming from the southern border.
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of the judge and ordered the Biden Administration to make a "good faith effort" to reinstate the policy. Until more information is available, it's unclear how many asylum seekers will be affected by this new development.
To back up their decision, the Supreme Court cited a decision to reject former President Trump's attempt to end DACA or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. In both cases, the Court claims that there is no benefit or evidence to suggest that revoking an order or stopping a program would be in the country's best interest.
Unless the Biden administration can prove that the Remain in Mexico program is harmful or based on a whim, the Court will not uphold the President's decision.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Department of Homeland Security have stated their disappointment in the Court. The DHS says that it will continue to work toward a better immigration system and challenge the Court's decision.
Omar Jadwat, director of the immigrant rights project at the ACLU, says, "The government must take all steps available to fully end this illegal program […]. What it must not do is use this decision as cover for abandoning its commitment to restore a fair asylum system."
Since the Remain in Mexico policy was introduced, critics have pointed out that it defeats the purpose of asylum entirely. Those who suffer through persecution, economic collapse, war, or social unrest should be able to find safety and security within the United States. However, if there is a policy that would force them to stay in a place where they are under those same horrific conditions until their documentation is processed, then we as a nation are not offering them asylum.
Other Restrictive Policies
In addition to Remain in Mexico, a different program motivated by safety issues related to the pandemic led to a much higher number of refugees being turned back at the border. This policy is still in effect and has not been suspended by the President.
The restriction on border crossings was intended to be a public safety measure limiting the number of possible COVID-19 carriers entering the country or worsening the spread. However, despite the 'good intentions' behind the ruling, immigration advocates have pointed out that prejudice could be playing a more significant role than public safety.
The Court's decision doesn't necessarily come as a surprise due to the vast amount of "shadow docket" decisions of late. The justices are racing to issue opinions on critical matters like immigration a such a fast rate that many are concerned that they are overextending their power or using it to serve their own political goals.
It will be crucial to keep an eye on this matter, and other immigration news as the country continues to battle mass COVID-19 casualties, economic strain, and social upheaval.
Sintsirmas & Mueller Co. L.P.A. will continue to stay updated on these issues. Keep track of important updates on our blog or contact us if you have any immigration questions.