The Biden administration announced on Friday, Oct. 15, that it would be prepared to start returning asylum-seekers to Mexico next month under a Trump-era policy after a federal court ruled that the program’s termination was unjustified. It had previously denounced the procedure known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy but more correctly as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
The Biden government is still seeking to revoke the MPP, even as it works to comply with the August order by Texas-based U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, according to administration officials, Reuters reported.
The MPP policy was developed in 2019 by Trump, who claimed that many asylum petitions were bogus and that applicants permitted into the U.S. may end up illegally staying if they skipped court dates. Biden stopped the policy shortly after entering office in January due to his promise to adopt a more so-called humanitarian approach to border concerns.
In August, Kacsmaryk ordered the federal government to revive the program after the Republican-led states of Texas and Missouri sued Biden over his decision to stop it. The Supreme Court, which has a 6-3 conservative majority that includes three Trump appointees, upheld Kacsmaryk’s decision, rejecting a bid by Biden’s administration to overturn it.
While appealing the case, the administration has stated that it will comply with Kacsmaryk’s order “in good faith.” Officials said the administration also intends to release a new letter terminating the program in the hopes of resolving any legal difficulties raised by the prior one.
“Re-implementation is not something that the administration has wanted to do,” a U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said in a call with reporters. “But in the interim, we are under this obligation of the court.”
The official said the administration had taken steps to prepare courts, some housed in tents, near the border where asylum hearings could be held.
Biden has left in place another policy that Trump announced in March 2020, early in the COVID-19 outbreak, which allows for most migrants apprehended crossing the border to be quickly ejected for public health concerns, with no form of asylum screening. One DHS official said that policy would continue.