Allow 'Remain in Mexico' policy to end: Is SCOTUS right?

Rodrigo Abd / AP

Fact Box

  • On June 30, 2022, the Supreme Court stated in a 5-4 ruling that the Biden administration was allowed to remove the Migrant Protection Protocols (aka the “Remain in Mexico” policy) that required migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims were being assessed. 
  • On October 14, 2021, the Biden administration announced the November reinstatement court order of former President Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy after the Justice Department had tried to delay the policy based on a “diplomatic and humanitarian crisis.”
  • On January 20, 2021, President Biden terminated wall construction at the Southern Border. He also revoked Trump’s “Remain-in-Mexico” policy to reinstate “catch-and-release,” where migrants entering unlawfully, though caught by authorities, are released into the American interior while awaiting processing. 
  • US Customs and Border Protection reported the number of migrant apprehensions reached 239,416 in May 2022, which increased from the previous month at 235,478.

Amanda (Yes)

Immigration policy is under the scope of the executive branch and therefore gives the president expansive powers to regulate it, as already previously asserted by the Supreme Court. In fact, just a few years ago, SCOTUS allowed the Trump administration to enact a temporary travel ban and visa freeze for travelers coming from certain Muslim majority countries. This was despite the fact that there had been assertions the ban was racially motivated and had no national security implications, making the legal justifications for it thin at best. But given the broad leeway the Court had allowed Trump, it was hypocritical that it even forced the Biden administration to continue the “Remain in Mexico” policy as long as it did. 

Beyond the constitutional implications, the policy was ultimately an unworkable solution anyway. It induced another sovereign nation to absorb the costs of American immigration law while straining the relationship between the US and Mexican governments with a refugee crisis purely of its own making.

Finally, the program itself was poorly run and just generally cruel. Not only were many migrants asylum seekers--who have a legal right to find shelter on American soil--but the Mexican camps they were forced into had little oversight or basic necessities, resulting in further harm to an already vulnerable population. While one might argue that cruelty was the point, it certainly doesn’t make the policy moral or intelligent.

Getting rid of the “Remain in Mexico” policy doesn’t mean the US no longer has any policies or procedures to process immigrants. It just means we’ll have better, more compassionate ones.

Suzanne (No)

Although SCOTUS' ruling is technically correct--recognizing the president's constitutional authority to repeal immigration-related orders and exercise 'direct diplomacy'--it is still not a decision that will benefit America in the long run, as the Biden administration will undoubtedly repeal the policy now that it's become a legal possibility. An estimated 1.35 million migrants have already passed through America's borders and settled into the nation's interior since 2021. 'Remain in Mexico' was implemented out of necessity so that migrants detained at the border would no longer be able to skip their court date and settle into the country illegally. Removing such a necessary policy when America already faces record numbers of illegal immigrants is unfair and unjust to lawful citizens. 

The border has already become so overwhelmed in recent years that US Customs and Border Protection reportedly released migrants without issuing court dates at all. The amount of undocumented migrants that have managed to enter America vastly outnumbers the population of many US states and cities. Permitting 'catch and release' policies instead of having migrants wait to enter lawfully from Mexico also defies a nation's moral duty to defend and define its borders. This is how a country prioritizes its citizens from being overwhelmed by large influxes of non-citizen populations, which create many problems of its own. America is already facing record-high inflation due to unchecked government spending throughout COVID. We cannot afford to further burden our welfare systems by giving handouts to non-tax-paying foreign nationals, as 26 states have been known to offer benefits to illegal immigrants. It seems the Biden administration's desire to repeal a perfectly reasonable policy when our borders are consistently overwhelmed is more of an anti-Trump move than prioritizing the needs of Americans.

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