The Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration likely violated federal laws in its efforts to repeal a Trump-era program which forced people to wait in Mexico and seek asylum in the U.S.
The high court refused Tuesday to block a lower court’s ruling that ordered the administration to reinstate Remain in Mexico, despite having three liberal justices dissenting.
It is not known how many people and how fast they will be affected. The lower court ruled that the administration must make “good faith efforts” to restart this program.
The administration can also try to terminate the program, which is formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols.
The program was previously reinstituted by a federal judge in Texas. He and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied the administration’s request for the decision to be put on hold.
Justice Samuel Alito requested a brief delay in order to give the court the time to review the appeal of the administration. This will allow the court to hold the ruling while the case moves through the courts.
The 5th Circuit ordered that the appeal of the administration be considered expeditiously.
Although the court did not provide any explanation for its decision, it cited an opinion that it had issued last year, rejecting Trump’s attempt to terminate another immigration program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The court ruled that DACA’s termination was “arbitrary, capricious”, in violation of federal law.
“The administration has failed to show a likelihood for success on the claim, that the memorandum revoking the Migrant Protection Protocols wasn’t arbitrary and capricious was not arbitrary or capricious,” Tuesday’s court order stated.
Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor were not the only ones to write opinions.
The Department of Homeland Security released a statement saying that it regretted the decision of the high court not to grant a stay. The department stated that it will continue to challenge the order of the district court.
The American Civil Liberties Union urged the administration to provide a more convincing argument for ending Remain in Mexico, which could be withstanded by a court.
“The government must do everything possible to end this illegal program. This includes re-terminating the program with a more detailed explanation. It must not use this decision to cover up its commitment to restore fair asylum systems,” Omar Jadwat (director of the ACLU’s immigrant rights program) said.
The policy was implemented by Donald Trump during his presidency and required that tens of thousands migrants seeking asylum in America return to Mexico. Although it was intended to discourage asylum seekers, critics claimed that it denied them the legal right of protection in the U.S. and made them wait in dangerous Mexican border towns.
U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk, Amarillo (Texas), ordered the program to be reinstated following a lawsuit by Missouri and Texas. These states have sought to reinstate some of Trump’s hardline anti-immigration policies.
Briefs from the Biden administration claimed that the president has “clear authority” to decide immigration policy and that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas was free to decide whether to send asylum seekers back to Mexico.
This policy had been inactive for over a year. The administration claimed that it would cause a disruption to the operations of the United States at its southern border and a diplomatic and humanitarian crisis.
At the outbreak of the pandemic Trump’s administration stopped using “Remain in Mexico” as a policy. It began to turn back nearly everyone who crossed the Southwest border with a different protocol. This is a public health order still in force.
The program was suspended by President Joe Biden on his first day in office, and it was ended by the Homeland Security Department in June.
Trump nominated Kacsmaryk to the federal bench. Two Trump appointees Cory Wilson and Andrew Oldham were part of the 5th Circuit panel which ruled Thursday night. Jennifer Walker Elrod was also on the panel.
At least five conservative justices, three Trump appointees included, voted in favor of the program’s restart at the high court. Because of the opaque court’s treatment of emergency appeals the justices are not always able to publicly state how they voted.