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'Matter of life and death': Officials concerned as SCOTUS certifies ruling to end ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy

The ruling allows the Biden administration to put an end to ex-President Donald Trump's Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy
President Joe Biden had suspended the Migrant Protection Protocols on his first day in office in January 2021 (David McNew and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
President Joe Biden had suspended the Migrant Protection Protocols on his first day in office in January 2021 (David McNew and Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The Supreme Court has now certified its month-old judgement, made on June 30, 2022, that allowed President Joe Biden's administration to put an end to the Migrant Protection Protocols, also known as the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. However, the ruling has concerned a few officials within the administration.

On Monday, August 1, 2022, after Supreme Court certified the ruling of ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy that required asylum seekers to wait in Mexico while claims are processed and waiting for hearings, a few celebrated the move, however, some showed concern over the judgement. Karen Tumlin, founder and director at Justice Action Center, issued a statement that read, "Today, the Supreme Court issued its judgment certifying the Biden Administration’s ability to end the deadly Remain in Mexico (RMX) program. As JAC and the #SafeNotStranded campaign have emphasized and DHS itself has recognized, the horrific human cost of RMX makes clear that the Biden Administration must swiftly and humanely end the program once and for all." She further said, "Tens of thousands of asylum seekers have been harmed by RMX while exercising their right to seek safety, and they must now be allowed to pursue their asylum claims; meanwhile, no new people should be placed in this shameful program." National Security Council (NSC) officials welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision but are worried that ending the program entirely would upend continuing immigration negotiations with the Mexican government, as reported by The Wall Street Journal.


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As stated by Fronteras, Aaron Reichlin-Melnick, policy director at the American Immigration Council, which advocates for immigrants, said, "Realistically ending a program which is only being allied to less than 1 per cent of the people coming to the border is not going to have any major impact on the number of people coming to the US-Mexico border." But for migrants stuck in the program, he said that the rollback could be a matter of life and death.

The Fifth Circuit is expected to formally instate the Supreme Court ruling in the next few weeks. Reichlin-Melnick said that should pave the way for Migrant Protection Protocols to come to an end shortly after, and his group will be watching closely to see that it does, as per reports. He added, "The October 2021 memo that Secretary Mayorkas signed says that as soon as practicable, after that lower court order goes away, the program will be terminated again, so that doesn't give the Biden administration much wiggle room."

According to NBC, the White House and Homeland Security Department had no immediate comment on the Supreme Court certification, while the Justice Department declined to comment. Officials in Mexico had no immediate comment.

Migrant Protection Protocols

According to AP, a total of 70,000 migrants were subject to the policy, known officially as Migrant Protection Protocols, which was initiated in January 2019 by former President Donald Trump. The Trump-era immigration policy forces asylum-seekers to wait in Mexico as their cases make their way through US immigration courts. President Biden suspended it on his first day in office in January 2021, fulfilling a campaign promise. Many were allowed to return to the United States to pursue their cases during the early months of Biden's presidency. Now, as per reports, the figures released on July 29 shows nearly 5,800 people have been subject to the policy from December through June.