Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D) joined 17 other state attorneys general in signing an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to end the federal “remain in Mexico” immigration policy.
Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul (D) has spearheaded the effort among liberal state prosecutors to persuade the high court to reverse the Trump-era policy, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). The policy stipulates that asylum seekers generally must await their U.S. asylum hearings in Mexico. The Biden White House has criticized the protocols but the courts have prevented him from reversing it.
In their amicus brief, an informational document also known as a “friend of the court” brief, Tong, Raoul and other attorneys general side with the Biden administration in arguing that MPP is unfair to asylum seekers, many of whom they say will endure family separation and threats of violence. They dispute the position of the circuit court that President Joe Biden lacks the requisite “parole” power to permit asylum applicants to enter American soil.
“This cruel and dangerous policy forces immigrants — many of whom are fleeing violence, natural disasters and instability in their home countries — to return to Mexico and wait for their cases to be called in U.S. Immigration court,” Tong said in a statement. “I urge the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn this decision and affirm the Biden administration’s authority to set immigration policy.”
Biden suspended MPP in January 2021 and instituted a review of the program. That June, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas announced the program’s cancellation, saying it failed to ensure asylum seekers’ safety.
The states of Missouri and Texas sued the administration in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, which ruled that Biden could not properly base his termination of the policy on federal powers. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit and the Supreme Court both affirmed that ruling.
Advocates for border security have observed that MPP appeared to have significantly reduced the number of illegal immigrants when it was in full effect. Biden has relaxed its use as well as other enforcement measures over the last year. As a result, approximately 1.66 million illegal migrants were apprehended at the U.S.-Mexico border in Fiscal Year 2021, setting an annual record for such apprehensions.
“By far, the main ‘pull factor’ that is encouraging aliens to enter the United States illegally is the Biden administration’s wholesale rejection of Trump border policies that had successfully brought the Southwest border under control — including Remain in Mexico,” writes Andrew Arthur, a resident fellow in law and policy at the D.C.-based Center for Immigration Studies, in an online commentary.
And as Bensman noted, hardline restrictionists haven’t been the only voices in favor of keeping MPP in place. He cited an editorial by the generally pro-immigration Bloomberg Opinion.
“Biden’s rush to undo any immigration policies associated with his predecessor has contributed to upheaval at the border and encouraged more people to risk their lives trying to reach the U.S.,” Bloomberg stated. “In the process, it has undermined public support for the comprehensive immigration reforms the country needs. Strengthening MPP, rather than discarding it, is the best way to restore confidence in the government’s ability to administer a more fair and orderly system.”
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Bradley Vasoli is managing editor of The Connecticut Star. Follow Brad on Twitter at @BVasoli. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “William Tong” by William Tong and photo “Kwame Raoul” by Kwame Raoul.