The Homeland Security Department announced it will end the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” policy and welcome ousted illegal immigrants back into the U.S. after a federal court dissolved the last remaining hurdle.
Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk lifted his permanent injunction Monday after the Supreme Court ruled in late June that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas did have power under the law to end the border security program, officially known as the Migrant Protection Protocols.
The department said it will immediately stop ousting people under MPP, and said the several thousands who had been ousted under the policy in recent months will be welcomed back when they show up for their next appointments — though they remain under threat of deportation.
“As Secretary Mayorkas has said, MPP has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs, and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border,” the department said in a statement announcing the move.
Under MPP, some migrants caught jumping the southern border illegally who then requested asylum were pushed back into Mexico to wait for their immigration court hearings.
The policy’s goal was to deny them the foothold that has served as an enticement for an unprecedented flow of immigrants, and it proved strikingly successful for the Trump team.
But the Biden administration called the policy cruel and has pushed from its early days to end the program, along with most of the rest of the Trump administration’s get-tough immigration policies.
Judge Kacsmaryk, in his initial ruling, had said Congress laid out a framework that calls for illegal immigrants to be detained or released under rare circumstances. In cases in which neither of those was possible, he said the law required they be returned to Mexico.
An appeals court backed Judge Kacsmaryk, but the Supreme Court disagreed in a 5-4 ruling led by Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr.
He said Congress made return of the immigrants to Mexico optional, and the Biden administration has more leeway to decide how to treat those jumping the border.
Since Judge Kacsmaryk’s original ruling last year, the Biden administration has put about 5,000 immigrants into MPP, according to the latest numbers through June 30.
Nearly 70,000 people were put into MPP during the Trump years.
Denied quick entry, many of those gave up their interest in reaching the U.S. and returned home or remained in Mexico. Others tried to sneak back into the U.S. again.
Few actually won their claims, with the American Immigration Council saying the success rate was about 1%.
The Trump administration saw the low rate of success as an indicator that most of the people had bogus claims to begin with.
Immigrant-rights activists, though, blamed lack of lawyers, bureaucratic complications and unsafe conditions in Mexico for making it tough for migrants to show up for their hearings and to make their arguments.
After Homeland Security’s announcement, activists urged the Biden administration to move quickly to bring the ousted migrants back.