The U.S. Supreme Court refused to block a court order requiring the Biden administration to reinstate a Trump-era immigration move known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy.
The policy, implemented by former President Donald Trump, requires asylum seekers at the southern border to stay in Mexico while they await hearings in U.S. courtrooms to determine their eligibility and status.
Three of the court’s more liberal justices – Justices Kagan, Sotomayor, and Breyer – would have accepted the application for a stay.
The Department of Homeland Security released a statement disagreeing with the ruling.
“The Department of Homeland Security respectfully disagrees with the district court’s decision and regrets that the Supreme Court declined to issue a stay,” the statement said. “DHS has appealed the district court’s order and will continue to vigorously challenge it. As the appeal process continues, however, DHS will comply with the order in good faith. Alongside interagency partners, DHS has begun to engage with the Government of Mexico in diplomatic discussions surrounding the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).”
The statement continued: “DHS remains committed to building a safe, orderly, and humane immigration system that upholds our laws and values. DHS continues to process individuals in accordance with U.S. law and our mission. Pursuant to the CDC’s Title 42 public health order, DHS continues to expel single adults and families encountered at the Southwest Border.”
A federal judge in Texas had previously ordered that the program be reinstated last week. Both he and the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals refused the administration’s request to put the order on hold.
Justice Samuel Alito ordered a brief delay to allow the full court time to consider the administration’s appeal.
The Trump administration put the “Remain in Mexico” policy in place in 2019. It involved sending migrants back to Mexico, rather than releasing them into the U.S., as their asylum proceedings were heard.
The policy, in cooperation with Mexico, resulted in court tents being set up along the border in places like Laredo, Texas, where migrants could briefly enter for their hearings before going back to Mexico.
The Trump administration argued that the policy ended “catch-and-release,” which it saw as a major pull factor drawing migrants north.
Critics said the Remain in Mexico policy was cruel and led to migrants being put in danger in camps across the border.
The Biden administration promised to end the policy and began processing migrants enrolled in the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) into the U.S. shortly after entering office. In June, it formally ended the program.
Missouri and Texas sued the administration, claiming that ending the policy was both illegal in the way that it was done, and that it harmed both border states and states deeper in the interior by encouraging migrants and therefore fueling the crisis at the southern border.
“We are hopeful for a favorable ruling because it is clear that the Biden administration didn’t consider anything relevant to how it was working or notice and comment, and obviously we have a crisis at the border now,” Missouri AG Eric Schmitt told Fox News in an interview last month. “Anyone who is paying attention knows we have a 21-year high in border crossings, drug traffickers, and human traffickers have been emboldened, and that affects not just Texas but states like Missouri.”
The lawsuit claimed some of the migrants released would commit crimes in their states, that it would lead to an increase in human trafficking, and that it would lead to higher costs for the states in areas like education and health care.
Associated Press and Adam Shaw contributed to this report.