Judge orders U.S. to reinstate Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” asylum policy

WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 09: A U.S. Customs and Border Protection patch on the uniform of Rodolfo Karisch, Rio Grande Valley sector chief patrol agent for the U.S. Border Patrol, as he testifies during a U.S. Senate Homeland Security Committee hearing on migration on the Southern U.S Border on April 9, 2019 in Washington, DC. During the hearing, lawmakers questioned witnesses about child mentions, minor reunification, and illegal drug seizures on the Southern Border. (Photo by Alex Edelman/Getty Images)

A federal judge in Texas directed the Biden administration on Friday to reinstate the Trump-era policy of requiring asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court hearings, saying the program was illegally terminated.

U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, who was appointed to the bench by former President Trump, ordered federal officials to revive the so-called Remain in Mexico program until it is “lawfully rescinded” and the government has the detention capacity to hold all asylum-seekers and migrants subject to mandatory detention.

Kacsmaryk delayed the effect of his nationwide ruling by seven days to give the Biden administration time to file an appeal.

In his 53-page opinion, Kacsmaryk said the memo Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas issued in June to formally end the Remain in Mexico policy violated federal administrative law. Kacsmaryk found that Mayorkas failed to consider the program’s “benefits,” which he said included the deterrence effect the policy had on migrants who don’t qualify for U.S. refuge.

Kacsmaryk also determined the reversal of the Trump-era border policy led the Biden administration to violate a section of U.S. immigration law that mandates the detention of certain asylum-seekers, since there’s currently not enough detention capacity to hold all of them.

Friday’s ruling is a victory for Texas and Missouri, which filed the lawsuit against the suspension of the Remain in Mexico rule, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP.

Kacsmaryk’s ruling found that Texas and Missouri are being harmed by the policy’s reversal because migrants released into the U.S. will use health care services and apply for driver’s licenses, and their children will attend U.S. schools.

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