Federal Judge Pauses Block On Remain In Mexico Program

A federal judge in Texas has suspended the Biden administration’s termination of a Trump-era program that keeps some asylum seekers in Mexico while their claims are being processed.

The “Remain in Mexico” policy, first implemented by the Trump administration in early 2019 to deter migration to the U.S. southern border, had been ended by executive order and a memo by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk paused the October 2021 memo by Mayorkas that terminated the policy.

In his 35-page ruling, former Trump appointee, Kacsmaryk, argued that the Mayorkas’ memo was “arbitrary and capricious” and did not consider the “deterrent affection on illegal border crossings and the reduction of unmeritorious asylum claims.”

The judge also said that the memo did not consider how ending the program, despite not having enough room in detention facilities to hold all arrivals, “leads to increased violations of limits on their parole authority as they release aliens into the United States.

The Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), usually referred to as the “Remain in Mexico” program was introduced by the Trump administration in 2019. Under MPP, individuals seeking asylum at a port of entry were given notices to appear in immigration court and then sent back to Mexico.

In March 2020, then-candidate Biden referred to the Remain In Mexico policy as “dangerous, inhumane, and goes against everything we stand for as a nation of immigrants” and promised to end it.

In January 2021, on his first day in office, Biden’s DHS suspended all new enrollments to MPP and started proceedings to end the program. The program has been bouncing between courts since then.

Under President Donald Trump, MPP was used to send nearly 70,000 people back to Mexico with the cooperation of the Mexican government.

The ruling comes less than a week before the end of Title 42, a different Trump-era policy that allowed some control over the intake of immigrants over the past three years.

In a tweet, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who had sued to block the policy from being lifted, celebrated the ruling saying, “I sued Biden nearly 2 yrs. ago to keep Remain-in-Mexico. The Admin played games all the way to SCOTUS, but tonight Texas & USA WINS.”