Biden Administration Challenges Remain in Mexico Program in Court

Those horrified by the unmitigated disaster at our Southwest border received some good news on August 13th after the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas ruled that the Biden administration unlawfully ended the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly referred to as the Remain in Mexico program. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk ordered the Biden administration to restart the successful program, citing the administration’s failure to follow the Administrative Procedures Act.

The implementation of the MPP during the Trump administration led to the orderly end of the 2019 migrant crisis. The program directed asylum-seeking aliens to wait in Mexico throughout the duration of their asylum proceedings in the United States, which took away the chief incentive to claim asylum in the first place: temporary legal presence in the United States. The Biden administration’s cancellation of the MPP led in part to the current border crisis. In the first six months (February-July) of the Biden administration, U.S. Border Patrol apprehended over 1 million illegal aliens at the Southwest border. The tally for July alone – 212,672 apprehensions – was the highest in 20 years.

Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling offered the Biden administration a politically convenient excuse to take back control of the southern border. The Biden administration could have easily justified the return of the MPP by citing the court’s ruling, and quietly conceded that the decision to end the MPP was bad policy on their part.

Instead, the Biden administration and Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas chose to double down on their decision to end the MPP. On August 16, the administration announced that it plans to appeal the decision. The case now heads to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

This represents another example of the Biden administration’s reflexive approach to immigration policy. The MPP worked at ending the previous border crisis and would undoubtedly help curtail the effects of the current one. But the Biden administration refuses to concede that a policy created by its predecessor worked.

Politically speaking, the Biden administration does not want to admit that a Trump administration policy was successful. Their supporters in Congress and among certain non-governmental organizations (NGOs) – particularly the ACLU and American Immigration Lawyers Association – all but demanded an end to the policy when President Biden entered the White House. Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling gave the opportunity to change the course of their border policy, which has wrought havoc and confusion while enriching the cartels and human traffickers that profit from the disorder at our border.

For months, FAIR has argued that reinstating the MPP should be the first step the Biden administration could take to reduce apprehensions at the border. The MPP would not solve the root cause of the issue (our easily-exploitable asylum laws) but rather would give policymakers the breathing room necessary to put in place other measures to bring apprehensions down to historic norms.

The decision by the Biden administration and by Secretary Mayorkas to challenge Judge Kacsmaryk’s ruling reinforces the perception that the White House places politics above sober policymaking when it comes to the issue of immigration.