Judge Blocks White House Bid To End “Remain In Mexico”

December 16, 2022

A federal judge in Texas on Thursday temporarily blocked a bid by the White House to end the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy, which requires migrants seeking asylum to wait south of the border for hearings in U.S. immigration court.

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk stayed the policy’s termination until legal challenges by the states of Texas and Missouri are settled. He did not, however, order the policy reinstated, leaving his ruling’s impact on the program unclear. 

During the Trump Administration, roughly 70,000 asylum-seekers were forced to wait in Mexico for U.S. hearings under the policy. President Biden suspended the policy on his first day in office, having said it “goes against everything we stand for as a nation of immigrants.”

Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee in Amarillo, ordered that the policy be reinstated during Biden’s first year in office. The White House appealed to the Supreme Court. 

In July 2022, in one of the Supreme Court’s final rulings before ending its 2021-2022 term, conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Brett Kavanaugh sided with the three liberal Justices by sending Biden v Texas back to federal district court in the Lone Star State.

In his 35-page ruling on Thursday, Kacsmaryk said it was likely an October 2021 memo that was the Administration’s latest effort to nail down termination of “Remain in Mexico” which did indeed appear to violate the law.

Among other things, the Administration failed to consider the benefits of the “Remain in Mexico” policy, including reducing illegal immigration and “unmeritorious asylum claims,” the ruling said.

The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that it disagreed with the ruling and was considering its next steps. It said the government was well within its authority to end the policy.

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