Court struggles to end Trump-era asylum policy

Mark Sherman | Olx Praca

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned lower court rulings that prevented the Biden administration from ending the controversial Trump-era immigration program for asylum seekers.

Questions from conservative and liberal judges over nearly two hours of wrangling suggested that the court could release the administration to end the “stay in Mexico” policy that forces some US asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their hearings.

President Joe Biden suspended the program on his first day in office. After being sued by Texas and Missouri, lower courts ordered immigration officials to reinstate it, even though the current administration has sent far fewer people back to Mexico than its predecessor.

The crux of the lawsuit is whether immigration authorities, with much less capacity to detain than necessary, should send people to Mexico or have the discretion under federal law to release asylum seekers to the United States while they await hearings. .

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, Biden’s chief attorney on the Supreme Court, told judges that the law contains no provision requiring the return of migrants to Mexico and that releasing migrants who have passed criminal records and other background checks would be of “significant public benefit.” USA, leaving places of detention free for more dangerous people.

Judges Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh, at least one of whom the administration needs to win the case, suggested that the administration has better arguments than the states.

“You lose if the government is right about something that is of significant public interest,” Barrett said in an interview with Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone II.

Several judges also echoed Prelogar’s view that no administration, including the Trump administration, has fully complied with the requirement to keep migrants waiting in Mexico.

If the states understand the law correctly, Judge Clarence Thomas asked, “Wouldn’t it be strange if Congress upheld a law that could not be enforced?”

Judge Elena Kagan was among the members of the court who wondered if lower courts were inadmissibly immersed in international relations, since the resumption of the program depends on Mexico’s willingness to accept migrants and close cooperation between countries.

“What are we supposed to do, drive trucks full of people to Mexico and leave them in Mexico?” Kagan asked Stone.

Judge Samuel Alito seemed to be the strongest voice for the states, casting doubt on the administration’s claim that it evaluates migrants on a case-by-case basis before releasing them.

Citing statistics from March 2021, Prelogar said that of the 220,000 people who stopped at the border, about 80,000 were admitted.

Alito said the situation is similar to people waiting to get into a Washington Nationals game. According to Alito, if they have a ticket and no alcohol or weapons, they are allowed in.

“That’s basically what you do. You have a little checklist and you go, boom, boom, boom,” Alito said.

About 70,000 people have been enrolled in the program, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, since President Donald Trump launched it in 2019 and made it the centerpiece of efforts to deter asylum seekers.

After Biden suspended the program, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Majorcas shut it down in June 2021. In October, DHS presented additional justification for the reversal of the policy, but to no avail in the courts.

The program resumed in December, but by the end of March, only 3,000 migrants were enrolled, while authorities stopped migrants at the border about 700,000 times.

The High Court pondered what to do about the limited nature of the contested program. Chief Justice John Roberts said he shared the administration’s position that it could not detain everyone or possibly abide by the law. “Where does this lead us?” he asked.

Those forced to wait in Mexico widely say they are intimidated by the dangerous Mexican border towns and find it very difficult to find lawyers to handle their asylum hearings.

Democracies and progressive groups are on the administration’s side. Republican-led states and conservative groups sided with Texas and Missouri. These include America First, a legal foundation led by former Trump aides Steven Miller and Mark Meadows.