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The Supreme Court upholds a federal judge’s order to reinstate “remain in Mexico”


The reinstatement of the controversial “remain in Mexico” program was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday after it denied an appeal by the Biden administration. The judge’s order forces the administration to begin reimplementing the program Wednesday. 

“The applicants have failed to show a likelihood of success on the claim that the memorandum rescinding the Migrant Protection Protocols was not arbitrary and capricious,” the Supreme Court ruling found. 

The Supreme Court’s ruling Tuesday upheld a federal court judge’s decision that MPP must be reinstated.

Migrant Protection Protocols, commonly referred to as “remain in Mexico,” was initiated during the Trump administration in 2019 and sent thousands of asylum-seekers to await their immigration court dates in Mexico. The Biden administration ended the policy in January, but earlier this month Amarillo-based U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk ruled the way the program was ended  violated existing U.S. immigration law. 

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The MPP program has been widely condemned by immigrant advocates as harmful to the safety of migrants and to their right to seek asylum. 

“Remain in Mexico was a really terrible policy, and we unfortunately had a front row seat to the harms of that policy,” said Hannah Hollandbyrd of El Paso’s Hope Border Institute during an Aug. 16 interview about the possibility of the program’s revival. 

Kacsmaryk ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the program in response to a lawsuit filed by Texas and Missouri, arguing that the termination of the policy violated U.S. immigration law.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton celebrated the ruling on Twitter. “TEXAS WINS AGAIN,” he posted minutes after the decision.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a statement Tuesday evening sharing its disagreement with the court’s order. 

“DHS has appealed the district court’s order and will continue to vigorously challenge it,” the statement said. “As the appeal process continues, however, DHS will comply with the order in good faith.”

Cover photo: A woman enrolled in Migrant Protection Protocols carries her documents in a plastic folder as she crosses the border from Juárez into El Paso on March 24. (Corrie Boudreaux/El Paso Matters)

René Kladzyk

René Kladzyk is a musician and writer based in El Paso. She performs original music as Ziemba, and has written for publications including Teen Vogue, i-D, and The Creative Independent. Her new album came out on Sister Polygon Records in September 2020, and she is hopeful that we’ll be able to enjoy live music together IRL again soon enough.

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