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Supreme Court allows Trump’s ‘remain in Mexico’ immigration policy to continue while it considers case

The Supreme Court of the United States in Washington, D.C., on September 25, 2018. Supreme Court will hear case involving convicted DC area sniper.(Olivier Douliery/Abaca Press/TNS)
March 11, 2020

The U.S. Supreme Court has handed President Donald Trump a temporary win on Wednesday after finding that his administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols, known as the “remain in Mexico” policy, may continue while the court considers whether it may continue.

The “remain in Mexico” policy is designed to make U.S. asylum applicants wait in Mexico as their case proceeds. The Supreme Court’s decision overturned a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling set to end the policy on parts of the U.S.-Mexico border, the Washington Times reported.

The Supreme Court’s ruling is a temporary stay, overturning the 9th Circuit Court’s order to end the policy, and allowing the policy to instead stay in effect while the Trump administration argues for the policy to remain permanently. The 9th Circuit Court ruling ending the asylum policy was set to take place on Thursday according to the Washington Post.

The American Civil Liberties Union, one of the plaintiffs arguing against the ‘remain in Mexico’ policy, said the rule created “unprecedented policy that fundamentally changed the nation’s asylum system, contrary to Congress’s design and the United States’ treaty obligations.”

The 9th Circuit Court, in turn, ruled in favor of ending the Trump administration’s policy in the states under their jurisdiction, including California and Arizona.

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“There is a significant likelihood that the individual plaintiffs will suffer irreparable harm if the MPP is not enjoined,” 9th Circuit judge Judge William A. Fletcher wrote in his majority opinion. “Uncontested evidence in the record establishes that non-Mexicans returned to Mexico under the MPP risk substantial harm, even death, while they await adjudication of their applications for asylum.”

The Trump administration argued, in their appeal to the Supreme Court, that the lower court’s ruling could result in a surge of attempts to rush the U.S.-Mexico border.

“Substantial numbers of up to 25,000 returned aliens who are awaiting proceedings in Mexico will rush immediately to enter the United States,” Solicitor General Noel Francisco wrote in a brief. “A surge of that magnitude would impose extraordinary burdens on the United States and damage our diplomatic relations with the government of Mexico.”

Border officials closed down the Paso Del Norte Bridge in downtown El Paso, Texas and other border crossing bridges after observing large groups of people assembling on the Mexican side of the border after the 9th Court’s initial decision.

The following week, the Trump administration deployed 160 U.S. National Guard troops to the border in anticipation of a further surge in border crossing attempts, demonstrating their concern over the lower court’s border policy ruling.

Around 60,000 asylum applicants have been sent to Mexico in the 13 months that the “remain in Mexico” policy has been in effect. The policy came into place last year after 47,000 migrants entered the U.S. illegally and were then released into the U.S. due to the backlog of immigration cases.

The Trump administration has fought to end immigration policies that have, in the past, called for migrants to be released into the U.S. as they waited for a judgement on their immigration cases. In a June 2019 Senate hearing, then-Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan warned that 90 percent of migrants released into the U.S. never showed up for their scheduled court dates.