Supreme Court justices hear debate over ‘Stay in Mexico’ border policy 2022-04-26 13:13:32

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The Supreme court On Tuesday he heard the debate over whether the Biden administration could properly dispose of the Trump administration’s Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), known as the “stay in Mexico” policy, which allowed the United States to turn back migrants across the border for waiting. immigration Hearings.

The crux of the issue is whether the federal government can use discretion in implementing the program, or if the policy, Texas and Missouri say in the lawsuit, is necessary to comply with federal law that says immigrants cannot be released to the United States because the country lacks resources to detain everyone.

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Attorney General Elizabeth Prilugar argued against the idea that a stay-in-Mexico policy was necessary to follow the law.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt speaks to reporters with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after the US Supreme Court hears arguments in their case on Title 42 on April 26, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmidt speaks to reporters with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after the US Supreme Court hears arguments in their case on Title 42 on April 26, 2022 in Washington, DC.
(Chip somophila/Getty Images)

“In this reading, every presidential administration has been in a straight line for the past quarter century in open violation of [Immigration and Nationality Act]”If Congress wanted to authorize those results, it would have spoken clearly,” she added.

Much of the conversation during the debate dealt with legal language. Prelogar referred to 8 USC 1225(b)(2)(c), which states that the attorney general may “return” aliens from adjacent territories to that area while they await a hearing, which Prelogar said was “not an authorization.”

Immigration activists demonstrate in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, while the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Biden v. Texas.

Immigration activists demonstrate in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, while the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Biden v. Texas.
(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Justice Clarence Thomas was quick to point out an earlier part of the law, 8 USC 1225 (b) (2) (a)which states that if an immigration officer determines that an immigrant is “clearly not eligible for admission” to the United States, “the immigrant must be detained.”

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“Texas, Missouri and other states are fighting to maintain policies,” Thomas said, referring to Texas, Missouri and other states. “It seems as if they think freedom of action is consumed by ‘must’.”

Parole and “other things” are discussed in 8 USC 1226 (a)which states that if an immigrant is arrested and faces possible deportation, the government has three options where it “may” detain them, release them on bail or on parole.

Immigration activists demonstrate in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, while the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Biden v. Texas.

Immigration activists demonstrate in front of the US Supreme Court in Washington on Tuesday, April 26, 2022, while the Supreme Court hears oral arguments in Biden v. Texas.
(Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)

Chief Justice John Roberts addressed the idea of ​​the government’s inability to comply with the law.

“If you have a situation where you are stuck because there is no way you can comply with the law and deal with the problem there, I just wonder why is that our problem?” Asked.

Prelugar acknowledged that this was not the court’s problem, but the court needed to do nothing but consider the lower court’s interpretation of the “may back” language of the statute, which resulted in an injunction preventing the administration from eliminating the MPP.

“All the court needs to say in this case is that the contiguous lands return clause does not carry the meaning that would justify the district court’s order in this case,” Prilugar said. She said that any other matter of legal significance in other sections did not require the attention of the Supreme Court here.

Jade Stone of the Texas Attorney General’s office argued in court that the only ways to meet federal requirements for immigrants: detain them, release them on parole, or send them back to the countries they came from.

Echoing what Prelugar had said earlier, Justice Thomas Stone asked whether “any administration ever complied with Resolution 1225 under your reading?”

“I don’t suppose,” Stone said. When asked by Thomas if it was “strange” for Congress to pass a law that the government could not follow, Stone answered no, and that there was a mandatory requirement of detention for “more than a century.”

If Congress does not provide the resources for an administration to fully comply, it is up to the executive branch to “do its best.”

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The case is being heard at a time when the Biden administration was in the process of reversing another Trump-era immigration border policy, Public Health Order Title 42 that allows for the urgent removal of immigrants from countries affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

President Biden said he lifted Section 42 effective May 23, which has led to lawsuits from a number of states. On Monday, a federal judge issued a temporary injunction preventing the administration from overturning the order.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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