One word in a Trump-era immigration law was pointed to by Supreme Court justices siding with the Biden administration’s arguments.
“In the case of an alien . . . who is arriving on land . . . from a foreign territory contiguous to the United States, the [Secretary] may return the alien to that territory pending a proceeding under section 1229a,” explained Chief Justice John Roberts who wrote the court’s majority opinion. Roberts noted the court has repeatedly ruled that the word “may” connotates a granting of discretion.
In other words, if the legislation had included the word “must” instead of “may,” the Biden administration would have been compelled to continue obeying Trump’s policy.
The U.S. Supreme Court Thursday authorized President Joe Biden to end the Migrant Protections Protocol (MPP). The policy, better known as the “Remain in Mexico” program, was enacted by former President Donald Trump to stop surges of illegal aliens across the Southern border.
Every person illegally entering the United States is required by federal law to be detained. Congress set the goal but never appropriates enough money. Administrations before Trump adopted a “catch and release” policy that basically put names to the faces vanishing into the country’s shadows. Many were never seen or heard from again unless they were arrested for a criminal offense.
Border agents processed more than 671,000 people along the Southern border in 2021 but were only given enough money to detain about 34,000 nationwide, according to the Washington Post report.
Trump began administering MPP in January 2019, which allowed the administration to return asylum seekers who illegally enter the U.S. back to Mexico. That policy ended up sending 68,039 illegal aliens to Mexico in the two years ending Dec. 31, 2020.
President Biden issued Executive Order No. 14010 upon assuming office and the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security was tasked with ending MPP. DHS Alejandro Mayorkas issued an order ending MPP on June 1, 2021
Texas and Missouri amended a lawsuit against the administration that used legalese to basically say: “Not so fast!” A Texas District Court agreed with their arguments that the government was required to continue following the MPP legislation. The court further found the administration did not follow the proper procedures for ending a law, even if they were correct.
An Appellate Court upheld the District Court’s opinion and the Biden administration was ordered to make a good faith effort to follow the MPP.
Thursday’s Supreme Court 5-4 decision went the president’s way, and many Texas and Arizona counties are bracing for an unprecedented surge of border jumpers.
“[R]ather than avail itself of Congress’s clear statutory alternative to return inadmissible aliens to Mexico while they await proceedings in this country, DHS has concluded that it may forgo that option altogether and instead simply release into this country untold numbers of aliens who are very likely to be removed if they show up for their removal hearings,” declared Justice Samuel Alito in his dissenting opinion.
“This practice violates the clear terms of the law, but the Court looks the other way.”
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