Judge Orders Biden to Revive Trump's 'Remain in Mexico' Policy Amid Record Surge in Migrant Arrests
The migration crisis shows no sign of ceasing in the US, with over 212,000 undocumented migrants detained along the country's southern border with Mexico in July, the biggest monthly total since April 2000.
A federal judge in Texas has ordered the Biden administration to reinstate former President Donald Trump's so-called "Remain in Mexico" policy, claiming the programme was illegally terminated.
The policy aimed to block tens of thousands of Central American asylum seekers by making them wait in Mexico for the outcome of their immigration hearings in the US.
On Friday, US District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk accused Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas of failing to consider "several of the main benefits" of the programme and acting "arbitrarily and capriciously" in formally ending it in June.
In his 53-page opinion, Kacsmaryk wrote that Mayorkas failed "to show a reasoned decision" for ending the programme and added that the DHS chief did not address "the problems created by false claims of asylum", in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA).
© REUTERS / STRINGERMigrants from Venezuela await transportation to a U.S. border patrol facility after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico in Del Rio, Texas, U.S., May 11, 2021
Migrants from Venezuela await transportation to a U.S. border patrol facility after crossing the Rio Grande river into the United States from Mexico in Del Rio, Texas, U.S., May 11, 2021
The judge also stressed that since the programme's termination, "the number of enforcement encounters on the southwest border has skyrocketed".
He delayed the ruling's effect by seven days to give the Biden administration time to file an appeal. The Department of Homeland Security has not yet commented on the matter.
The ruling follows Mayorkas telling reporters on Thursday that Customs and Border Protection (CBP) authorities have encountered an "unprecedented number of migrants" along the country's southern border. According to CBP data, a record 212,672 migrants were apprehended in July, a 13 percent increase over the influx of 188,000 migrants encountered in June.
"A couple of days ago I was down in Mexico, and I said look, you know, "If, if our borders are the first line of defence, we're going to lose, and this is unsustainable'", the DHS boss asserted.
He spoke after Ted Cruz (R-TX) lashed out at the Biden administration over its decision to abandon the "Remain in Mexico" programme, suggesting the move was responsible for the record high numbers of encounters between border agents and asylum seekers.
"The Biden Border Crisis is getting worse […]. The border has been a catastrophe since Biden ripped up the Remain in Mexico agreement", Cruz tweeted last week.
The Biden administration formally scrapped the programme on 1 June following a review by the DHS. At the time, the White House suspended new enrollments in the programme, which required immigrants seeking asylum status in the US to wait in Mexico before being summoned for their hearings.
Shortly after assuming office in January, Biden began to reverse Trump's hardline immigration policies, halting construction of a border wall, moving to end "harsh and extreme immigration enforcement", and promising to "restore and expand" the asylum system.
Other moves included rescinding the Trump travel ban and promising a "path to citizenship" for more than 11 million undocumented immigrants already living in the US.