WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court is giving the Biden administration a quick hearing on its effort to scrap a Trump-era border policy that makes asylum-seekers wait in Mexico for hearings in U.S. immigration court.
The justices agreed Friday to hear the administration’s appeal of lower court rulings that forced it to reinstate the “Remain in Mexico” policy that former President Donald Trump introduced in 2019. Arguments will take place in April, with a decision expected by late June.
President Joe Biden suspended the program, formally called Migrant Protection Protocols, on his first day in office and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas ended it in June 2021.
But after the Republican-led states of Missouri and Texas sued over Biden’s action, a federal judge ordered the policy put back in place, and a three-judge appeals court panel agreed. The district judge and two of the three appellate judges are Trump appointees.
Mayorkas has acknowledged that the “Remain in Mexico” policy likely contributed to a drop in illegal border crossings in 2019, but said the reduction came with “substantial and unjustifiable human costs” to asylum-seekers who were exposed to violence while waiting in Mexico.
The program has resumed, but slowly. Since its restart in December, 572 people had been returned to Mexico through Feb. 13, according to the United Nations migration agency.
Both the Trump and Biden administrations have used a separate authority, aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, to expel more than 1.5 million migrants since March 2020 without giving them an opportunity to claim asylum.