As SCOTUS certifies Remain in Mexico ruling, advocates watch closely for what's next

Published: Monday, August 1, 2022 - 4:33pm
Updated: Monday, August 1, 2022 - 4:34pm
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The Supreme Court has issued a certified judgment of its ruling allowing the Biden administration to roll back the Migrant Protection Protocols — the Trump-era program that has forced tens of thousands of migrants to await U.S. asylum hearings in Mexico. This is supposed to pave the way for the program to end as planned.

Texas and other states mounted a lawsuit to keep MPP in place after Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued a memo ending the policy last fall. The case made its way to the Supreme Court after the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided with Texas and, on June 30, the high court ruled the government had the authority to roll back the program as planned last fall.

But more than a month later, some advocates wonder why the Biden administration has been quiet about plans to rescind it. As the Wall Street Journal reported last week, some within the Biden Administration have expressed concerns over whether ending the policy will lead more people to come to the border.

Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council, which advocates for immigrants, says MPP under Biden has been drastically scaled back, in part because the Mexican government has placed broader restrictions on who its country accepts through MPP, and it should be on track to end. 

"Realistically ending a program which is only being allied to less than 1 percent of the people coming to the border is not going to have any major impact on the number of people coming to the US-Mexico border," he said. 

But for migrants stuck in the program, Reichlin-Melnick says the roll back could be a matter of life and death. Next, the Fifth Circuit is expected to formally instate the Supreme Court ruling in the next few weeks. Reichlin-Melnick says that should pave the way for MPP to come to an end shortly after, and his group will be watching closely to see that it does.

"The October 2021 memo that Secretary Mayorkas signed says that as soon as practicable, after that lower court order goes away, the program will be terminated again, so that doesn't give the Biden administration much wiggle room," he said.

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