A federal judge ruled in favor of Texas and Missouri in a lawsuit that alleged that the Biden administration’s attempt to end President Trump’s Remain-in-Mexico policy (known officially as Migrant Protection Policy,) was illegal and harmful, putting the onus on the administration to “enforce and implement” the policy amid a surging border crisis.
The states claimed that the way in which the Biden administration ended MPP was illegal and that it was harmful because it encouraged migrants to illegally cross the border, fueling the crisis.
On Friday, Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled in favor of the states which argued that the Biden administration’s June 1st memo formally terminating the policy was in breach of the Administrative Procedures Act (APA).
Kacsmaryk said that the administration’s decision to end the policy “has contributed to the current border surge.” He cited the increase in border apprehensions from less than 80,000 in January 2021 to about 173,000 in April 2021 and July saw a record number of encounters at the border, a 20-year high at 212,000.
The ruling requires the Biden administration to “enforce and implement MPP in good faith” until it has been “lawfully rescinded” in concurrence with APA standards, and “until such a time as the federal government has sufficient detention capacity to detain all aliens subject to mandatory detention under Section 1255 without releasing any aliens because of a lack of detention resources.”
The injunction itself is narrow. The ruling states, “Nothing in this injunction requires DHS to take any immigration or removal action nor withhold its statutory discretion towards any individual that it would not otherwise take.”
“My office has been leading the way nationally in fighting human trafficking, and the Biden Administration’s lax border policies increase the risk for human trafficking at the border and, in turn, in Missouri. Today’s massive win was crucial – re-implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols will help secure the border and fight the scourge of human trafficking,” Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office cried victory in a tweet:
We just won our second immigration lawsuit against the Biden Admin! They unlawfully tried to shut down the legal and effective Remain-in-Mexico program, but #Texas and Missouri wouldn’t have it.
Together we sued, and just handed Biden yet another major loss! pic.twitter.com/Tcxte8gF6H
— Texas Attorney General (@TXAG) August 14, 2021
The ruling accuses Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of ignoring the problems created by fraudulent asylum claims and not having addressed the department’s finding that 9 out of 10 asylum claims from Northern Triangle countries are ultimately found to be meritless.
Kacsmaryk stated that he found DHS’ counter-arguments, like the potential negative effect of policies like MPP on diplomatic relations, “unpersuasive.”
The MPP put into place by the Trump administration effectively ended the problematic catch and release loophole in the American immigration system. The policy required that the U.S. government work with Mexico’s government to send migrants back to Mexico for their asylum hearings, instead of releasing them into the U.S. until their hearing date.
Critics of the policy claim it was cruel and that it endangered migrants when they were sent back over the border into Mexico.
The government will have seven days to appeal the ruling by Kacsmaryk.
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