DHS to restore ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy after SCOTUS ruling

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The Biden administration will move to reinstate the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy for asylum-seekers while it appeals a federal court order that the program be restored.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki emphasized Wednesday that while the administration opposes the policy, it was “compelled to — by law — to now procede with means by which we abide by the ruling.”

The Supreme Court Tuesday night declined to block a nationwide injunction issued Aug. 13 by Texas federal judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who ruled that the White House had likely violated federal law when President Joe Biden suspended the policy hours after taking office in January.

The program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), required asylum claimants to wait in Mexico until their case could be heard in a US immigration court. Biden’s order suspending the program was challenged by the Republican attorneys general of Texas and Missouri.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas formally ended the MPP program on June 1, while the case was pending, stating that keeping it in place would not be “consistent with this Administration’s vision and values and would be a poor use of the Department’s resources.”

Migrants arrive in El Ceibo, Guatemala after being deported from the US and Mexico on on August 19, 2021.
AFP via Getty Images

Psaki echoed that critique Wednesday, telling reporters the White House believes the program “was not implemented in a moral way. It was inefficient. It used resources by — CBP resources, it led to a backlog in the system, and it is fundamentally a program we have opposed.

“But,” she added, “we are also abiding by a court order.”

In his ruling Kacsmaryk ordered the administration to make a “good faith” effort to restart the program and enforce it until it had been lawfully rescinded and immigration officials had enough space to hold all detained illegal immigrants.

Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, speaks during a news conference in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 25 August 2021.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki blasted the Migrant Protection Protocols for being “inefficient” and creating “a backlog in the system.”
EPA/Stefani Reynolds/POOLEPA/Stefani Reynolds/POOL

Psaki said Wednesday that State Department and Homeland Security officials were discussing with their Mexican counterparts how to implement the order. The White House had argued in its motion to the Supreme Court that reinstating the program “would prejudice the United States’ relations with vital regional partners, severely disrupt its operations at the southern border, and threaten to create a diplomatic and humanitarian crisis.”

In his June memo canceling the policy, Mayorkas estimated that 68,000 people had been affected by it. The Trump administration largely stopped using the policy at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, at which point it began turning back virtually everyone crossing the Southwest border under the so-called “Title 42” health protocol.

With Post wires

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