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The Supreme Court said Tuesday that the Biden administration should comply with a lower court ruling to reinstate President Donald Trump’s policy that required many asylum seekers to wait outside the United States for their decisions to be made. cases.
The administration had asked the court to suspend a federal judge’s order that the “stay in Mexico” policy known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) should be immediately reimplemented. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled earlier this month that the Biden administration did not provide an adequate reason to get rid of the policy and that its proceedings with respect to applicants asylum seekers entering the country were illegal.
On the objections of the three liberal judges, the conservative majority of the court agreed that the administration had not done enough to say why it was changing policy.
The administration “did not demonstrate the likelihood of success in stating that the memorandum of termination of migrant protection protocols was not arbitrary and capricious,” the court said in a brief unsigned order.
Judges Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were said to have accepted the administration’s request.
The action could be a disastrous sign for the new administration. The court often showed deference to the Trump administration in these emergency matters, even when the policy in question was first raised.
Acting Attorney General Brian H. Fletcher had made this explicit in his writ in court.
“In recent years, this court has repeatedly suspended lower court action against the policies of the Executive Branch that address issues of immigration, foreign policy, and migration management,” Fletcher wrote. “I should do the same here.”
But in short order, the court referred to a 2020 decision that stopped the Trump administration from dismantling the Obama-era program – Deferred Action for Child Arrivals – that protected immigrants being taken to the country illegally as children.
The Biden administration made an urgent request for Supreme Court judges to act, saying Kacsmaryk “fundamentally misunderstood” federal immigration law and was inappropriately involved in the immigration and foreign policy decisions they left behind. to the executive branch.
“MPP has been terminated for 2.5 months, suspended for 8 months and largely dormant for almost 16 months,” Fletcher wrote.
“The district court’s mandate to abruptly re-impose and keep this program under judicial oversight would harm U.S. relations with vital regional partners, severely disrupt its operations on the southern border, and threaten to create a diplomatic and humanitarian crisis.”
A U.S. appellate court group for the fifth circuit had largely shown support for Kacsmaryk and had rejected the government’s request to suspend his sentence while studying the government’s appeal.
Shortly after taking office in January, President Biden said the administration would not continue to enroll in the MPP and ordered a review of the program. He and immigration rights groups had criticized the immigration policies implemented by Trump and his administration as counterproductive and contrary to the nation’s historical practices.
“I am not making a new law. I am eliminating bad politics, “Biden said at the time.
According to the program, more than 60,000 asylum seekers were sent to wait outside U.S. territory while claims were processed in immigration courts. The states of Texas and Missouri filed a lawsuit, saying terminating the policy would result in an undocumented flow of immigrants to those states.
While the litigation was underway, National Security Department Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas presented a seven-page note on June 1 detailing what he considered the MPP’s shortcomings and why his department was canceling. the policy adopted at the end of 2018.
On August 13, Kacsmaryk, a Trump candidate who took the bench in 2019, ruled for the states. He set free the decision of Mayorkas and issued a permanent court order throughout the country, which would come into force in seven days. He demanded that DHS “enforce and implement MPP in good faith” until Mayorkas provided an additional explanation for its decision and until the department has “sufficient detention capacity to detain all foreigners” who arrive at the border. without permission to enter.
Kacsmaryk said the law only gave the administration two options for asylum-seeking migrants: “compulsory detention or return to contiguous territory.”
In the Supreme Court, the Biden administration said it was a misinterpretation of the “flagrant” law. The law gives discretion to the executive branch, they argued, and said such a reading of the law “has never been accepted by any presidential administration since the enactment of the statute in 1996, even while MPP was operational.”
He defended Mayorkas’ decision-making, but said that even if it were insufficient, the solution would be to demand additional reasoning and not to re-implement a program that requires delicate negotiations with Mexican and other officials.
While Biden pledged during the campaign to end the “stay in Mexico” program, he has continued the Trump administration’s policy of expelling migrants from the southern border to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Thousands of single adults continue to be deported, although in recent months the Biden administration has admitted most unaccompanied migrant and minor families to seek refuge in the United States.
The case is like this Biden v. Texas.
Maria Sacchetti contributed to this report.
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