President Joe Biden is reportedly preparing to reinstate former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy following a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week declaring his January executive order ending the program unconstitutional.
What’s notable, however, is that The New York Times — which reported on the development — has framed reinstatement of Trump’s policy, otherwise known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, as a political gift to Biden rather than a matter of law and order, as well as national security.
According to the Times, a number of White House officials saw last week’s high court decision, which ruled that Biden violated the Administrative Procedures Act when he overturned the policy by executive fiat, as an opportunity to dramatically curb illegal immigration at a time when national polling showed a majority of Americans in both parties concerned and angry about the record numbers of migrants coming across the southern border.
The Times claimed that several officials were already considering recommending a reboot of Trump’s policy, albeit in a reduced manner, to cut down on the number of illegal crossings.
Biden himself could have simply reinstated the policy or something similar to it through executive action, but that would have angered his Democratic base, many of whom saw Trump’s policies as cruel and inappropriate; but the high court now gives Biden political cover to reimplement it without the political fallout, the Times indicated.
In his first days in the White House, Biden issued several executive orders that eliminated or reversed most of Trump’s immigration and border enforcement policies, which Republican critics say led to the migrant border crisis in the first place. Reports have indicated that more than 1 million have crossed into the U.S. illegally since Biden took office, shattering records in nearly every month.
“They are backed into a corner on their broader immigration agenda,” said Doris Meissner, who headed up the old Immigration and Naturalization Service from 1993 to 2000, in an interview with the Times.
“The only tools that are available in the near term are pretty much pure enforcement,” she added.
As the number of illegal crossings rose and Biden appeared to be in no hurry to reverse course, many inside the White House began to fret about the political fallout from voters during next year’s midterms, when the party in the White House tends to lose seats in Congress historically anyway, according to the Times.
“This desire to reverse Trump’s policies and to do so quickly has landed the Biden administration in this predicament, which was not unpredictable and is very sad to watch,” Alan Bersin, who served a stint as commissioner of Customs and Border Protection and “border czar” during the Obama administration, told the paper.
That said, Politico reported that the administration is considering a lighter version of the MPP, forcing a smaller number of migrants to stay south of the border while they await the processing of their asylum claims.
“The Biden administration is trying to remain true to the president’s campaign promises on immigration while abiding by a federal court order,” the outlet noted.
Dubbed “Remain in Mexico lite” by some in the White House, the policy would see fewer migrants being forced back across the border but would also provide them better living conditions and attorney access.
It’s not clear, however, if that reduced policy will satisfy the Supreme Court order.
Nevertheless, Politico noted that already, the likelihood of reimplementing Trump’s plan has angered leftist immigration advocates.
“One of his campaign promises was to end MPP. He did that. He should stand by that,” Marielena Hincapié, the executive director of National Immigration Law Center, told Politico. “The answer is not to simply find a gentler, kinder MPP 2.0. That completely flies in the face of his promise.”
Department of Homeland Security officials said the agency was continuing legal efforts to end the program in lower federal courts, Politico noted.
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