WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to block a ruling by a Texas federal judge demanding the Biden administration reinstate a Trump-era immigration program that forces asylum seekers arriving at the southwestern border to await approval in Mexico .
The court’s brief, unsigned injunction stated that the administration appeared to be acting arbitrarily and erratic in withdrawing the program, citing a decision last year denying the Trump administration the Obama-era program. for the protection of young immigrants known as dreamers.
The three more liberal members of the court, Judges Stephen G. Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, said they would have delayed the trial judge’s ruling. They gave no reasons. The case will now be heard by an appeals court and may return to the Supreme Court.
Commonly known as Remain in Mexico and formally as the Migrant Protection Protocols, the challenged program applies to people who have left a third country and traveled through Mexico to reach the US border. After the policy was introduced in early 2019, tens of thousands of people waited for immigration hearings in unsanitary tent camps exposed to the elements. There are widespread reports of assault, kidnapping and torture.
President Biden suspended and then terminated the program. Texas and Missouri sued, saying they were injured in the termination for having to provide government services, such as driver’s licenses, to immigrants allowed to enter the United States under the program.
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On Aug. 13, Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, in Amarillo, ruled that a federal law requires that non-citizens seeking asylum be returned to Mexico when the government did not have the resources to send them back. to hold on.
That was a new reading of the law, Acting Solicitor General Brian H. Fletcher told the judges. That view had “never been accepted by any presidential administration since the statute came into effect in 1996,” he said, including the Trump administration.
Judge Kacsmaryk suspended his ruling for a week, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, refused to grant the government any more reprieve while it appealed, leading to an urgent request to stay in the Supreme Court . On Friday, shortly before the ruling was to take effect, Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. a short stay to give the full Supreme Court the opportunity to consider the case.
The Supreme Court has had previous meetings with the program. In response to an emergency request from the Trump administration, the court revived the program last year after a federal appeals court blocked the program.
The judges later agreed to hear the Trump administration’s appeal against a decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, which had blocked the law, saying it violated federal law and international treaties. and “wrought extreme and irreversible damage. But the Supreme Court dismissed the case in June in response to a request from the Biden administration.
Fletcher urged judges to show the Biden administration the same respect as the Trump administration.
“In recent years, this court has repeatedly blocked broad injunctions from lower courts against the executive’s policies on immigration, foreign policy and migration management,” he wrote. “It should do the same here.”
Omar Jadwat, the director of the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said the Biden administration had properly rescinded the Remain program in Mexico.
“The government must take all available measures to completely end this illegal program, including by terminating it again with a more comprehensive explanation,” he said in a statement following the Supreme Court ruling. “What it cannot do is use this decision as a cover to give up on its promise to restore a fair asylum system.”
Mr Fletcher noted that the executive branch had broad authority on immigration. “The court order,” he wrote, “in effect dictates United States foreign policy.”