On Thursday, the last day before the Supreme Court breaks for the summer, a majority of the justices ruled on the side of the Biden administration in regards to the Trump administration immigration policy dubbed "remain in Mexico."
In the opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, the court ruled that the Biden administration can legally end the policy, known formally as the Migrant Protection Protocols.
The protocol required that those seeking asylum in the US along the southern border wait in Mexico as their cases are decided.
The case was ruled in favor of the Biden administration in a 5-4 split, with Brett Kavanaugh, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomeyer and Elena Kagan concurring with Robert’s opinion, and Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, Amy Coney Barrett, and Samuel Alito dissenting.
Biden had vowed to suspend the program the day he was inaugurated, seeking later that year to terminate the protocol altogether.
According to the opinion, "The District Court and the Court of Appeals, however, held that doing so would violate the Immigration and Nationality Act [INA], concluding that the return policy was mandatory so long as illegal entrants were being released into the United States."
Roberts wrote that the DHS did not have “sufficient detention capacity to maintain in custody every single person described in section 1225” of the INA, and that "In light of that fact, the Trump administration chose to implement MPP in part so that '[c]ertain aliens attempting to enter the US illegally or without documentation, including those who claim asylum, will no longer be released into the country, where they often fail to file an asylum application and/or disappear before an immigration judge can determine the merits of any claim.'"
According to Roberts, "The questions presented are whether the Government’s rescission of the Migrant Protection Protocols violated the Immigration and Nationality Act and whether the Government’s second termination of the policy was a valid final agency action."
"[T]he Government’s rescission of MPP did not violate section 1225 of the INA, and the October 29 Memoranda did constitute final agency action," Roberts wrote in the Court's opinion.
Section 1225, according to Fox News, states that someone applying for admission into the US "shall be detained for a proceeding" unless they are "clearly and beyond a doubt entitled to be admitted." It adds that if the immigrants is from a contiguous territory like Mexico, "the Attorney General may return the alien to that territory" as they await a hearing.
In the lawsuit, Texas and Missouri had pointed to this language, and argued that the Remain in Mexico policy was necessary to adhere to this law.
The court noted in the majority opinion that the phrase "may return" is "discretionary," and the states and lower court interpreted the rule as requiring a person to be removed if they are not detained.
"The problem is that the statute does not say anything like that," Roberts wrote in his opinion.
"The statutory grant of discretion here contains no such caveat, and we will not rewrite it to include one," Roberts later wrote.
Roberts noted that if Congress meant for removal to be mandatory in the case that detainment was not availably, it would have said so clearly.
In the dissenting opinion, written by Alito, he noted that the Department of Homeland Security does not possess the means to detain all those who cross the border, and instead of Congress increasing the funding, the DHS has resorted to released "untold numbers of aliens who are very likely to be removed if they show up for their removal hearings."
"Due to the huge numbers of aliens who attempt to enter illegally from Mexico, DHS does not have the capacity to detain all inadmissible aliens encountered at the border, and no one suggests that DHS must do the impossible," Alito wrote. "But rather 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."
Alito argued that the US does not possess the authority to release migrants into the US if they are believed to not be eligible for admission.
"When it appears that one of these aliens is not admissible, may the Government simply release the alien in this country and hope that the alien will show up for the hearing at which his or her entitlement to remain will be decided? Congress has provided a clear answer to that question, and the answer is no," Alito wrote.
"This practice," Alito continued, "violates the clear terms of the law, but the Court looks the other way."
This is a breaking story and will be updated
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