U.S. Supreme Court to hear ‘stay in Mexico’ immigration dispute



Feb 18 (Reuters) – The U.S. Supreme Court agreed on Friday to hear President Joe Biden’s request to overturn a sweeping immigration policy begun under his predecessor Donald Trump that forced tens of thousands of migrants to remain in Mexico to await US hearings on their asylum claims. .

Judges will hear a Biden administration appeal against a lower court ruling that reinstated the so-called ‘stay in Mexico’ policy after the Republican-led states of Texas and Missouri sued for maintain the program. Biden suspended the policy, which changed longstanding American practice, shortly after taking office last year.

The Supreme Court fast-tracked the case so that it could be argued during its current term in April, with a decision expected by the end of June.

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The Trump administration has said what it called a security and humanitarian crisis along the US-Mexico border justified the refusal to allow asylum-seeking migrants, for fear of persecution in their home countries, to enter the United States before the hearings before the immigration judges. The policy is officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).

Previous administrations had used the federal immigration provision at issue in the case, which went into effect in 1997, on a limited basis, according to court documents.

The Biden administration said the provision is clearly discretionary, and the lower court’s decision means every presidential administration “has been in continuous and systematic violation” of the law since its inception.

About 68,000 people have fallen under the policy since it took effect in 2019 until Biden suspended it in 2021.

Biden’s fellow Democrats and immigration advocates have criticized Trump’s policies, saying migrants stranded in Mexican border towns have faced kidnappings and other dangers.

Texas and Missouri have challenged the Biden administration’s decision to drop the policy, including a memo ending the program issued last June.

After a federal judge reinstated the program, the Supreme Court last August denied a request by the Biden administration to block that decision while the government pursues an appeal.

In December, the 5th United States Circuit Court of Appeals, based in New Orleans, upheld the judge’s decision, ruling that Biden’s action violated both federal immigration law and the administrative law. The 5th Circuit said that because the government does not have the capacity to detain all migrants who are not eligible for admission pending a hearing, it must maintain “stay in Mexico”.

In its appeal to the Supreme Court, the Biden administration said it was “forced to reinstate and continue to implement indefinitely a controversial policy” that exposes migrants to security risks, harms relationships with Mexico and is not the best tool to deter illegal immigration.

The administration also said lower courts were unacceptably interfering with the historically broad authority U.S. presidents have had over immigration and foreign affairs — a principle the Supreme Court has long endorsed, including in cases where Trump was president.

The number of migrants caught crossing the US-Mexico border has recently reached record highs, with fellow Trump Republicans criticizing Biden’s immigration policies.

The Biden administration left in place a separate Trump-era order that allows U.S. border officials, due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, to quickly remove migrants caught at the border without giving them the possibility of seeking asylum in the United States.

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Reporting by Andrew Chung in New York; Additional reporting by Ted Hesson; Editing by Will Dunham

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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