As Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” Plan Hits A Legal Snag, His Administration Turns to SCOTUS

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco is preventing President Donald Trump’s administration from enforcing its Migrant Protection Protocols, otherwise known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, for asylum-seekers to stay in the country. Restrictions remain in place until March 11 for review by the Supreme Court. The ruling only applies to Arizona and California, the states under the court’s authority, and not New Mexico and Texas.

The ruling affirms the court’s ruling last week that the policy violates both United States and international law. The policy, which went into effect in January 2019, requires asylum-seekers to remain in Mexico while they wait for their immigration hearings. The Trump administration considers the policy a great success, saying it has curbed the “uncontrolled flows” of migrants at the southern border, but advocacy groups have found that thousands of migrants required to wait have been kidnapped, raped, or tortured.

The appeals court’s decision will take effect on March 12 if the Supreme Court opts not to hear the case. Attorneys with the Justice Department argue that stopping the program would create “massive and irreparable national security and public safety concerns” because U.S. Customs and Border Protection lacks enough detention space to house thousands of new migrants who, they contend, would create a “rush on the southern border.”

Lawyers challenging the policy say the Supreme Court should deny the government’s request for a stay because the 9th Circuit’s original decision did not require the government to allow asylum-seekers affected by the policy to immediately re-enter the United States. They point out in court filings that the decision requires the government pursue an “orderly unwinding” of the policy.

The Supreme Court has sided with the Trump administration on immigration issues before. In January, the court allowed the government to temporarily continue enforcing a policy barring migrants from applying for asylum unless they’d already been denied asylum in another country while in transit to the United States.