Washington, Jun 30 (EFE).- The United States Supreme Court ruled Thursday that President Joe Biden has the authority to end “Remain in Mexico,” predecessor Donald Trump’s policy compelling migrants seeking asylum in the US to wait south of the border while their applications are processed.
The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), as the program is officially known, was denounced by human rights organizations and deeply unpopular in Mexico and on taking office in January 2021, Biden suspended it.
But the states of Texas and Missouri sued the Biden administration and a Trump-appointed federal judge issued an injunction to compel the government to resume the MPP.
Writing for the 5-4 majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that the “use of the word ‘may'” in the relevant immigration statute, “makes clear that contiguous-territory return is a tool that the (Department of Homeland Security) Secretary ‘has the authority, but not the duty,’ to use.”
Roberts was joined by fellow conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh and the court’s three liberals in overturning the lower court decision that prevented Biden from terminating Remain in Mexico.
Both Roberts and Kavanaugh noted that Congress has required the executive branch to detain asylum seekers pending resolution of their cases, it has not provided sufficient funding to do so.
The decision has implications beyond Remain in Mexico, as it restricts the ability of lower courts to intervene in immigration enforcement and detention cases, Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director of the American Immigration Council, said in a statement welcoming the end of the “cruel and inhumane Remain in Mexico program.”
“Limiting access to justice to challenge immigration enforcement cases sets a dangerous precedent by giving agencies unchecked power to arrest, detain, and deport,” he said.
Rep. Chuy Garcia, a Mexican-American Democrat who represents a district in Illinois, said the Supreme Court decision “underscores” the authority of the Biden administration “to take executive action on issues related to immigration and asylum.”
In 2019, Trump used the threat of trade sanctions to coerce the Mexican government into agreeing to harbor third-country nationals applying for asylum in the US and his administration sent 71,071 applicants to Mexico.
To comply with the lower court order, the Biden administration reached an agreement last December with Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to reinstate Remain in Mexico.
As of the beginning of December 2021, more than 26,500 migrants on MPP lists were in eight Mexican border cities, according to data from the University of Texas. EFE