Supreme Court Decision Paves Way for End to ‘Remain in Mexico’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) issued the following statement by Stephanie M. Alvarez-Jones, staff attorney with the SPLC’s Immigrant Justice Project, responding to today’s Supreme Court’s ruling on the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy in the Biden v. Texas case. The program, known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), is a Trump-era immigration program that forces asylum seekers seeking protection at the southern border to wait in Mexico while their asylum cases are pending in U.S. immigration courts.
“The draconian ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is a human rights failure. The policy dumped tens of thousands of people into precarious, life-threatening conditions in Mexico, forcing them to wait in dangerous border towns while their cases were pending in U.S. immigration courts. The primary goal of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy was to keep people seeking refuge out of the U.S., no matter the cost to human life or due process.
“Today’s ruling is an important first step towards ending a horrific, racist policy designed to put asylum seekers in harm's way. Policies like ‘Remain in Mexico’ and Title 42 disproportionately impact Black and Brown migrants. People arriving at the U.S. border seeking refuge deserve access to safety and to be treated with dignity. The Biden administration must keep its promise to end this catastrophic policy as soon as possible and provide relief for the tens of thousands of people who were subjected to it.”
In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that the Biden administration had the power under U.S. immigration law to end the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. The Court rejected arguments by Texas and Missouri that continuing the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy is required if the government does not have the resources to detain every person seeking asylum at the southern border. The Justices reversed the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and sent the case back to the district court to further evaluate the administration’s memo ending the policy.
To view the full opinion, along with a concurring opinion by Justice Kavanaugh and dissenting opinions by Justices Alito and Barrett, please visit:To view the full opinion, along with a concurring opinion by Justice Kavanaugh and dissenting opinions by Justices Alito and Barrett, please visit:
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Two weeks after the government returned the first person under the policy on Jan. 29, 2019, the SPLC, in partnership with the ACLU and the Center for Gender and Refugee Studies, filed a lawsuit, Innovation Law Lab v. Wolf, challenging the legality of the Remain in Mexico policy on behalf of affected asylum seekers and six legal service providers.
In October 2020, the SPLC, in partnership with Innovation Law Lab, the National Immigration Project of the National Lawyers Guild, and pro bono partner Arnold & Porter LLP, filed Immigrant Defenders Law Center, et al. v. Mayorkas, an additional lawsuit challenging the implementation of the Remain in Mexico policy. That lawsuit alleged that by trapping asylum seekers in dangerous zones in Mexico, the policy deprived tens of thousands of asylum seekers of access to legal assistance and other tools needed to meaningfully present their claims.