The Supreme Court issued a significant judgment in the very last case of its most recent term that not only removes a roadblock to eliminating a hallmark Trump administration policy but also sends a strong message that immigration policy is now in the hands of the public.
The Supreme Court rejected an attempt to stop the present administration from reversing a Trump-era policy that mandates that asylum applicants arriving at the southern land border of the United States be sent back to Mexico while their claims are being assessed in Biden v. Texas.
The case will be sent back to the lower courts as a result of the 5–4 ruling. But it also makes it plain that whoever holds the White House has the authority to modify immigration policy’s course, even if that means a complete 180-degree turn. So, in other substantive legal areas like civil rights and environmental protection, presidents can exercise the same authority.
The right to stay
The question in Biden v. Texas was whether the Biden administration could reverse a Trump administration policy known colloquially as the “Remain in Mexico” policy but officially known as Migrant Protection Protocols.
The Trump administration unveiled the plan in late 2018 as one of a series of immigration enforcement tactics in response to the large number of migrants coming at the border between the United States and Mexico.
The safety and living circumstances of asylum seekers who were housed in camps under the control of Mexican authorities, however, raised questions about the Migrant Protection Protocols. Human Rights Watch stated that the programme violated “refuge seekers’ right to seek asylum in the United States” while also exposing them to dangers of kidnapping, extortion, rape, and other atrocities in Mexico.
But the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit blocked a move by the Biden administration to scrap the procedures. The Biden administration had broken the immigration statute that forbade the detention of asylum applicants, according to the circuit judges.
The Supreme Court disagreed with this decision. Justices Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Brett Kavanaugh joined Chief Justice John Roberts in the court’s majority ruling, which found that the Biden administration’s decision to end the Migrant Protection Protocols did not violate federal immigration law. Ending the “Remain in Mexico” policy, according to the state of Texas, contravened a rule requiring that all asylum seekers who enter the nation be sent back or imprisoned.
Justice Samuel Alito stated in his dissent that the legislation mandates the obligatory detention of immigrants at the border. The Supreme Court lacked jurisdiction, according to Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s opinion, and the case should have been returned back to the lower courts.
Avoid being arbitrary, and stop being capricious
With the elimination of a significant legal barrier that prevented Biden from halting the “Remain in Mexico” policy, the case will now be submitted back to the lower court for decision-making. The Supreme Court ruled that all asylum applicants do not have to be detained indefinitely while their claims are being reviewed.
The court also made it plain that the president has the authority to continue or discontinue programs started by the previous administration as well as modify the course of immigration policy.
It might seem obvious at this point. However, it follows another 5-4 Chief Justice Roberts judgment from 2020, Department of Homeland Security v. Regents of the University of California, which ruled that a president may not make illogical decisions about immigration.
In that ruling, the Supreme Court determined that the Trump administration’s decision to revoke the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (or DACA) policy had been made arbitrarily and capriciously. That program granted so-called Dreamers, illegal immigrants who entered the nation as youngsters, limited legal status and work permits.
According to the court, the Trump administration’s decision to revoke the program did not sufficiently take into account the interests of immigrant children and was supported by conflicting justifications.
When the Biden administration tried to undo some of the initiatives from the Trump administration, that decision gave states more reason to sue. For instance, Arizona and other states resisted Biden’s efforts to drop a previous administration’s proposal to tighten the standards for low- and moderate-income noncitizens who wish to immigrate to the United States. Despite originally agreeing to examine the case, the Supreme Court eventually denied the appeal and chose not to rule on the issue’s merits.
In the end, the Biden v. Texas ruling of the Supreme Court supports the straightforward tenet that presidential elections have an impact on governmental decisions. The Supreme Court has ruled that an incumbent government is permitted to modify immigration policy as long as it abides by the laws, including thoughtful consideration of the options available to it.