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WASHINGTON – The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday gave the Biden administration the green light to repeal the Trump-era immigration policy requiring asylum seekers to stay in Mexico while their cases are reviewed, ending a year-long legal battle over a practice. Critics say it contributed to the humanitarian crisis on the border.
Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority decision, which was 5-4. He was joined by Justice Brett Cavano and the court’s liberal group. Justices Samuel Elito, Neil Gorsch, Clarence Thomas and Amy Connie Barrett disagreed.
In a final opinion issued for 2021-2022, Roberts said the lower court’s ruling against the administration “placed a significant burden on the executive’s ability to conduct diplomatic relations with Mexico.” That’s because, according to Roberts, the United States cannot unilaterally repatriate migrants from Central America to Mexico. He must negotiate with Mexican officials for compensation.
The decision represents a rare victory for President Joe Biden before the Conservative Supreme Court and allows the administration to reverse the policy imposed by President Donald Trump.
In a dissenting opinion, Alito blamed the administration for “releasing numerous aliens in this country who will be removed if they come to the hearing of their removal.”
“This practice violates the simple terms of the law,” Elito said, “but the court turns a blind eye.”
Special category:More and more immigrants are seeking asylum in the U.S.; Many people run into the wall of high bureaucracy
The Trump administration implemented a “stay in Mexico” policy in January 2019, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, as part of its efforts to curb immigration. Immigrants from Central America and other countries need to wait in Mexico to have their applications reviewed. By the end of 2020, the federal government had registered 68,000 people for the program, according to court records.
Fulfilling the campaign promise, Biden ended the program last year. Texas and Missouri claimed that the Department of Homeland Security did not follow the law when it struck the program because it did not explain its reasons for doing so. The U.S. Court of Appeals agreed with the states in December for the fifth circuit.
Federal law requires the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) to detain immigrants when their asylum claims are reviewed, but Congress has not provided enough money to comply with that order. Of the 220,000 encounters carried out by border agents with immigrants on the southwestern border in March, DHS only had funding for 32,000 detention beds, federal officials told the court.
The Biden administration has never disputed that it is required by law to detain immigrants. The question was what to do with such people when Congress did not provide money to meet the need. Texas and Missouri said the law requires most of them to return to Mexico. Biden officials responded that there was no such requirement of legislation, noting that Trump – a pre-Republican or Democrat administration – did not interpret it that way.
Instead, the Biden administration ended paroleing thousands of immigrants in the United States while they awaited their hearing. The current administration said the deal allows officers to prioritize people who mostly commit crimes or flee for arrest.
Title 42:Asylum seekers prepare to wait indefinitely at the border
The program is related to but different from a program called Title 42, implemented in 2020, which speeds up the process of evacuating asylum seekers due to the COVID-19 epidemic. Biden has tried to stop the program, but the attempt has been blocked by a federal court. Neither the White House nor the Department of Homeland Security responded immediately to a request for comment.
The lawsuits are being resolved at a time when the country is experiencing a sharp rise in migrants along the southern border. U.S. Customs and Border Protection arrested 234,088 people at the border in April, the highest monthly total in 22 years.
Translation Teresa Frantado