The Supreme Court on Tuesday effectively ordered President Joe Biden to restart his predecessor’s “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum seekers, The New York Times reports.
The court in an unsigned order rejected an appeal from the Biden administration after a federal judge in Texas issued an order requiring the administration to resume the Trump-era policy requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for approval.
The court’s six conservative justices said that Biden’s memo rescinding the policy may have been “arbitrary and capricious.” Liberal Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor would have granted a stay of the lower court ruling.
The court did not provide a reason for the decision. The case will now be heard by a lower appeals court, though it could still make its way back to the Supreme Court.
Policy led to tent camps and violence:
Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy required asylum seekers who left a third country and traveled through Mexico to the US border to remain in Mexico while immigration officials went through a massive backlog of applications.
After the policy was enacted in 2019, the Mexico side of the US border saw unsanitary tent camps and widespread reports of rape, kidnapping, and torture.
Biden suspended the program after taking office but Texas and Missouri sued the administration, arguing that they would have to provide government services like driver’s licenses to immigrants allowed into the country.
Earlier this month, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled that a federal law required asylum seekers to remain in Mexico when the government lacked resources to detain them, which acting solicitor general Brian Fletcher said has “never been accepted by any presidential administration since the statute’s enactment in 1996.”
The Supreme Court previously upheld the Remain in Mexico policy after a lower federal court blocked it from going into effect and an appeals court upheld the lower court ruling because it was at odds with federal law and caused “extreme and irreversible harm.”
The administration is expected to appeal the ruling.
“The district court’s injunction,” Fletcher wrote, “effectively dictates the United States’ foreign policy.”
Omar Jadwat, the director of the A.C.L.U.’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said that Biden’s move to repeal the policy was the right one.
“The government must take all steps available to fully end this illegal program, including by reterminating it with a fuller explanation,” he said. “What it must not do is use this decision as cover for abandoning its commitment to restore a fair asylum system.”