The US Supreme Court has denied President Joe Biden’s bid to rescind a Trump-era immigration policy that forced thousands of asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while seeking asylum in the US.
Three liberal justices – Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan – dissented to the apex court’s decision to revive former President Donald Trump’s “remain in Mexico” policy, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program.
The Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative majority includes three justices appointed by Trump.
Under the policy, tens of thousands of non-Mexican asylum seekers — mostly from Central America — were sent back over the border pending the outcome of their applications.
Supporters of the decision have celebrated the move. Taking to Twitter, the office of the Texas Attorney General tweeted “TEXAS WINS AGAIN.
In the order, the court referenced a separate case in which it blocked Republicans in June 2020 from ending a federal program giving legal status to hundreds of thousands of immigrants, known as Dreamers.
The court had found the Republican move to cancel the program to be “arbitrary and capricious.”
The Supreme Court similarly said in its order that the Biden administration had “failed to show a likelihood of success on the claim that the memorandum rescinding the Migrant Protection Protocols was not arbitrary and capricious.”
The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that it “regrets that the Supreme Court declined to issue a stay.”
It added that “as the appeal process continues, however, DHS will comply with the order in good faith.”
Immigrant rights groups also protested the Supreme Court’s order.
“Today’s SCOTUS decision forcing the reinstatement of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is nothing short of cruel,” said Yael Schacher, senior US advocate at Refugees International.
The “Biden administration must not see this decision as a mandate,” they added.
Reacting to the Supreme Court’s order, the American Civil Liberties Union called on the administration to present a fuller rationale for ending Remain in Mexico that could withstand court scrutiny.
“The government must take all steps available to fully end this illegal program, including by re-terminating it with a fuller explanation. What it must not do is use this decision as cover for abandoning its commitment to restore a fair asylum system,” said Omar Jadwat, director of the ACLU’s immigrant rights project.
The case can now proceed at a lower level in an appeals court.
Arrests of migrants caught crossing the US southern border have reached 20-year highs in recent months, a development that Republicans blame on Biden’s reversal of MPP and other Trump immigration policies.
Biden’s administration has left in place a separate Trump-era order that lets US border authorities, because of the COVID-19 public health crisis, rapidly expel migrants caught at the border without giving them a chance to seek asylum in the United States.