Supreme Court says Biden can end Trump-era immigration policy

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On Thursday, the Supreme Court gave President Joe Biden the green light to end the controversial “Stay in Mexico” immigration policy that originated under former President Donald Trump.

Since the beginning of his administration, Biden has tried to end the policy, which sends certain non-Mexican nationals who have entered the U.S. back to Mexico — rather than detaining or releasing them in the United States — while his immigration procedures played out.

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The decision score was 5-4. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said that “Congress has conferred authority to return contiguous territory on expressly discretionary terms.”

Biden’s attempt to end the program was challenged in court by a Texas-led coalition of red states, which argued that ending the program would violate immigration law. They also argued that the administration violated the Administrative Procedure Act – which requires agencies to take certain procedural steps when implementing the policy – ​​in the way it scrapped the program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols.

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The program, which was first implemented in 2019 under then-President Donald Trump, has been criticized by immigrant rights advocates, who argue that it is inhumane and that it exposes asylum seekers with credible claims to dangerous and miserable conditions in Mexico. .

Prior to the Trump administration implementing the “Stay in Mexico” program, no other administration had taken such an approach to non-Mexican asylum seekers that required them to remain in Mexico during the US immigration court process. Biden campaigned for an end to the policy and said it “goes against everything we stand for as a nation of immigrants.”

Biden faced an increasing number of border crossings over the course of his rule amid mass migration in the Western Hemisphere. Since October, border authorities have encountered migrants more than a million times along the U.S.-Mexico border, though many have been turned away under a separate pandemic emergency rule. The Department of Homeland Security, however, maintained that the “Stay in Mexico” policy has a high human cost and is not an effective use of resources.

According to Biden’s Department of Justice, the relevant immigration law had never been interpreted as requiring the government to send migrants back to Mexico with pending immigration cases that it was unable to keep detained.

“Every presidential administration has understood that this is just a purely discretionary authority. That goes for the previous administration,” Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar said in oral arguments in April.

She also argued that keeping “Stay in Mexico” in place would not solve the essential problem: that Congress has instructed that immigration authorities “shall” detain asylum seekers whose cases are pending, but that lawmakers have failed to appropriate sufficient resources for those cases. detention facilities.

“Returning from contiguous territory cannot be the solution here,” Prelogar said, noting that when the Trump administration was carrying out the policy, only 6.5% of migrants found at the border were enrolled in the program.

“It has inherent restrictions,” Prelogar said, pointing to the membership the program requires from Mexico, a sovereign nation.

Biden first tried to suspend the program on the day he took office in 2021, sparking the red states lawsuit. In June of that year, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memorandum formally ending the policy — but a Texas federal judge blocked that measure in August. Days later, the Supreme Court refused to suspend that decision while the appeal was ongoing, effectively requiring Biden to revive “Stay in Mexico.”

In October, Mayorkas issued a new memorandum ordering the program to end, which sought to address procedural flaws set out in the August district court decision. A point of contention in the lower court case was whether that October memo made earlier rulings moot, with the US 5th Court of Appeals concluding that it did not.

The policy was restarted last December. More than 5,000 migrants have been returned to Mexico under the program since then, according to the International Organization for Migration. Nicaragua, Cuba, Colombia and Venezuela are among the nationalities enrolled in the program.

The overarching issue in the case was the level of discretion left to the executive branch by the immigration statutes in question, which have been amended on several occasions over the last century. A provision in the law says that asylum seekers whose applications are still being examined “shall” be detained pending these procedures.

Another provision, adopted in 1996, said that the federal government “may return” migrants who are still awaiting their procedures to the contiguous territory from which they entered. Another provision says that, “on a case-by-case basis,” immigration officials can release immigrants whose cases are pending on parole.

Opponents of the Biden administration in the case argued that the government was categorically releasing immigrants on parole that went beyond the “case-by-case” basis outlined in the statute.

“Petitioners would prefer not to choose between the options that Congress has provided — namely, detain, parole individually, or return covered aliens,” Texas said in a statement. “Instead, they seek the power to unleash classes of aliens on the United States en masse.”

Source: CNN Brasil

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