Remain in Mexico program. Illustration.
Shelle-Ann Simon

Shelle-Ann Simon

Remain in Mexico program still in force despite Supreme Court decision

The end of the controversial Remain in Mexico program or MPP has been already decreed in court. Why is it still applied at the border?

Recently, the Biden administration managed to obtain a victory in the Supreme Court in order to end the Remain in Mexico program, a controversial immigration measure promoted by the administration of former President Donald Trump. This program, also known as Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), was first implemented in January 2019.

This migratory control measure forces asylum seekers to wait on the Mexican side of the border until they have their appointment with the immigration judge. Typically, asylum seekers present themselves at one of the border entry points or cross the border clandestinely and apply for asylum once they are in the United States.

When Donald Trump finished his presidency, about 71 thousand people had been enrolled into the Remain in Mexico program. The result? Shelters of Mexican border cities collapsed in the face of so many refugees, and those who did not obtain shelter had to form migrant camps, the best known being the one established in Matamoros, a town located just across from Brownsville, Texas. The situation in these settlements is absolutely precarious, and violence and abuse of immigrants by criminal gangs are prevalent.

The long legal battle to remove the Remain in Mexico program: a victory for immigrants?

Although the Biden administration has been trying to eliminate this policy since June 2021, its actions were impeded from the very beginning by a legal challenge filed by the attorneys general of Texas and Missouri, both known for their highly conservative politics regarding immigration issues.

This outcome involved a legal battle between the plaintiffs and the government that took many months to reach its conclusion. However, the final resolution by the Supreme Court favored the presidential administration: as the Supreme Court is the body with the highest hierarchy in the Justice system, its word has maximum authority.

Remain in Mexico program. Illustration.

So, what happened afterward? Why is the Remain in Mexico program still being enforced?

The Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration acts in accordance with the law and can legally end the Remain in Mexico program. However, for this verdict to be translated into concrete action, the Court must take some bureaucratic protocol measures. That is, the Supreme Court must certify the opinion issued on June 30, and once it does, it must communicate this opinion to the lower court where the case was initially heard: the Court of Appeals for the Fifth District.

Only then can the District Court of Texas formally end the pending injunction and close the matter. Unfortunately, this process can take weeks to complete, and meanwhile many immigrants are being forced to stay in dangerous or unsanitary conditions. By May of this year, 5,000 people were incorporated into the program according to information obtained by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse.

Some experts state the Biden administration is probably proceeding cautiously to avoid having another legal dispute that leads to having to battle the same issue again in court. Both Missouri and Texas have several precedents in their history when it comes to fighting in court with the Biden administration to challenge the immigration policy of the current Democratic administration.

However, some activists maintain that the government could at least begin to prepare for the changes that ending the program will inevitably bring.

If you are in need of immigration legal advice, do not hesitate to contact us! At the Law Office of Shelle-Ann Simon we have wide experience in immigration proceedings, family law, and personal injury and have successfully defended our clients for over 10 years. Contact us through our website or give us a call at 281-606-5362!

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