A federal judge on Thursday temporarily blocked the U.S. government from ending a policy by former President Donald Trump that requires asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their hearings in U.S. immigration courts.
District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, in Texas, stayed the cancellation of the measure pending legal appeals from Texas and Missouri, but did not order its reinstatement. The impact of the decision on the program was not immediately clear.
“It is common sense policy to prevent people from entering our country illegally,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott tweeted after the ruling. “Texas wins again, for now.”
The ruling could be a temporary setback for the Joe Biden administration, which could appeal.
An email requesting comment to the Department of Homeland Security was not immediately returned.
With Trump in the White House, some 70,000 asylum seekers were forced to wait in Mexico for immigration hearings based on the policy introduced in January 2019. Biden, who said it “goes against everything we stand for as a a nation of immigrants”, he suspended her on his first day as president.
This sparked a long and tortuous legal and administrative battle.
Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee in Amarillo, ordered the policy reinstated in 2021. The White House complied after agreeing to changes demanded by Mexico, but did not apply it widely and only a few thousand people were sent to the neighboring country.
The US Supreme Court ruled in June 5-4 that Biden had the ability to end what are technically known as the Migrant Protection Protocols. But it sent the case back to Kacsmaryk for one of the main issues: whether the executive’s action was “arbitrary and captious” and therefore violated federal rulemaking law.
In his 35-page ruling, the judge noted that an October 2021 report, which was the government’s last-ditch effort to nail down the policy’s end, was likely to violate the law.
Among other things, the executive did not consider the benefits of the measure, including the reduction of illegal immigration and “non-meritorious asylum applications,” the document said.
Trump made this policy a linchpin of border security, which critics say is inhumane because it exposes migrants to extreme violence in Mexico and complicates their access to lawyers.
Kacsmaryk said the Biden administration document mentioned the conditions migrants might face while in Mexico, but not the difficulties they experience beforehand, “as they make the perilous journey to the southern border.”
Source: El Nuevo Herald