Judge orders Biden to restart ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy

9 in 10 asylum claims from Northern Triangle countries found to be without merit, ruling says

Unaccompanied minors ride atop the wagon of a freight train, known as La Bestia (The Beast) in Ixtepec, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, June 18, 2014.
Unaccompanied minors ride atop the wagon of a freight train, known as La Bestia (The Beast) in Ixtepec, in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, June 18, 2014. | Reuters/Jose de Jesus Cortes

A federal judge has directed the Biden administration to restart President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which dealt with a surge in illegal immigration by requiring asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for their court hearings in the United States.

In a 53-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, said the Department of Homeland Security “failed to consider several critical factors” before scrapping the “Remain in Mexico” policy.

President Joe Biden reversed many Trump-era immigration policies, including “Remain in Mexico,” on his first day in office on Jan. 20 and halted construction on the border wall. Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas formally ended “Remain in Mexico” on June 1 of this year.

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Many Republicans blame the Biden administration’s border policies for the massive increase in the number of immigrants crossing the southern border that's overwhelming U.S. border agents and area towns and cities. 

Mayor Javier Villalobos of McAllen, Texas, said the city is “running out of money” and has been forced to issue an emergency disaster declaration. 

The declaration warned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection "is releasing an alarmingly substantial number of immigrants into the City, including [thousands of] individuals that are positive for COVID-19." 

The judge's ruling came Friday in a lawsuit filed by the states of Texas and Missouri, which said the discontinuation of the policy had aggravated the situation at the border and was leading to criminals slipping into the U.S.

One of the factors the Biden administration failed to consider was how some immigrants with asylum claims that lacked merit had started returning home voluntarily due to Trump’s program, the judge said.

Mayorkas sent a memorandum to top immigration officials in June, saying the department reviewed the policy and determined that it “does not adequately or sustainably enhance border management in such a way as to justify the program’s extensive operational burdens and other shortfalls.”

Referring to the memo, the judge wrote: “At the very least, the Secretary was required to show a reasoned decision for discounting the benefits of MPP (Migration Protection Protocols). Instead, the June 1 Memorandum does not address the problems created by false claims of asylum or how MPP addressed those problems. Likewise, it does not address the fact that DHS previously found that ‘approximately 9 out of 10 asylum claims from Northern Triangle countries are ultimately found non-meritorious by federal immigration judges,’ and that MPP discouraged such aliens from traveling and attempting to cross the border in the first place.”

“This decision is a win for America and an indictment of this administration’s reckless immigration policies,” Dale Wilcox, executive director of the Immigration Reform Law Institute, which had filed briefs backing Texas and Missouri in the lawsuit, said, The Washington Times reported.

According to numbers released by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, over 188,000 border enforcement encounters took place in June. Before the pandemic last June, there were over 104,000 border enforcement encounters. The year 2021 has seen the highest number of unlawful border crossings in over 20 years.

Mayorkas finally admitted in July — when over 212,000 migrant apprehensions were made along the Mexican border — that there was unprecedented illegal activity.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who was tapped to be the border czar, has been criticized by Republicans for not being proactive in response to the border, and instead focusing her efforts on what she considers root causes in the countries of origin.

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