A federal judge ordered the Biden administration late Friday to revive a key immigration policy established by former President Donald Trump that President Joe Biden canceled.
The ruling came one day after the Department of Homeland Security announced border patrol agents encountered 212, 672 migrants in July, a 13% increase from June.
What is the background?
Upon entering office in January, Biden reversed many of Trump's deterrent immigration policies. Biden had promised to take such action, arguing Trump's policies "waged an unrelenting assault on our values and our history as a nation of immigrants."
One of the first Trump-era policies that Biden suspended was known as "Migrant Protection Protocols." The policy forced migrants seeking asylum to wait in Mexico while U.S. immigration courts settled their case.
By forcing migrants to wait in Mexico, Trump's policy essentially prevented "catch and release," where migrants claiming asylum in the U.S. would be released into the U.S. general population while immigration courts decided their fate. Many of those released would then go on to live in the shadows.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on June 1 the official end of MPP, Bloomberg noted.
What did the judge rule?
U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk sided with the states of Texas and Missouri, which sued Biden for canceling MPP. The states argued the Biden administration's decision to cancel the program is, in part, responsible for the ongoing border crisis.
Kacsmaryk, who was appointed by Trump, ordered the Biden administration to "enforce and implement MPP in good faith until such a time as it has been lawfully rescinded in compliance with the [Administrative Procedure Act] and until such a time as the federal government has sufficient detention capacity to detain all aliens subject to mandatory detention under Section 1255 without releasing any aliens because of a lack of detention resources."
The judge concluded the Biden administration "failed to consider several critical factors, including the benefits of the remain in Mexico policy" when canceling the policy. In fact, Kacsmaryk said the Biden administration failed "to show a reasoned decision" for canceling MPP at all.
However, Kacsmaryk noted that his order does not require the Biden administration to take immediate action. "Nothing in this injunction requires DHS to take any immigration or removal action nor withhold its statutory discretion towards any individual that it would not otherwise take."
Kacsmaryk gave the Biden administration one week to seek "emergency relief at the appellate level."
What was the reaction?
The Texas Attorney General's office celebrated the decision.
"ANOTHER VICTORY! We just won our second immigration lawsuit against the Biden Admin! They unlawfully tried to shut down the legal and effective Remain-in-Mexico program, but #Texas and Missouri wouldn't have it," the Texas AG's office said on Twitter. "Together we sued, and just handed Biden yet another major loss!"
Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt also praised Kacsmaryk's ruling.
"Today, in a huge win for the Missouri Attorney General's Office and in a big step towards securing the border, a federal court issued a nationwide permanent injunction, reversing the Biden Administration's suspension of the program and ordering the Biden Administration to reimplement the program," Schmitt said in a statement.