Aug 28, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Courts leave asylum seekers in limbo

Picture of a family walking in front of a sign that reads "Welcome to Mexico"

Central American migrants who were expelled from the U.S. and later bused by Mexican authorities to El Ceibo, Guatemala. Photo: Johan Ordóñez/AFP via Getty Images

The Supreme Court has let stand a lower-court decision to reinstate the "Remain in Mexico" program, leaving Mexican authorities and asylum seekers on tenterhooks.

Why it matters: Thousands of claims that had been stalled by the so-called Migration Protection Protocols were advancing with applicants' return to the U.S.

  • “We don’t even really know what it would look like to reinstate it at this point,” immigration lawyer Bradley Jenkins told Axios Latino about the program, which the Biden administration had ended in June.
  • It forced non-Mexican asylum seekers to wait in Mexico, which that country initially consented to, after they sought refuge from the southern U.S. border.
  • There, many found the same violence that had originally led them to leave home: at least 1,500 were victims of murder, rape, torture or kidnapping, according to a report from Human Rights First.

What's next: An appeals court will take up the case, and it could eventually end up back at the high court.

The intrigue: A lower court in Nevada ruled in a separate case last week that deportation after illegal reentry is unconstitutional because it is racist.

  • Judge Miranda Du ruled that a section of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which makes returning to the US. after being deported a felony, violates the equal protection clause.
  • Jenkins, the immigration attorney, stated that “it’s a controversial position” that higher courts might reverse if the White House chooses to appeal.
  • But he added that the argument could be used in other individual criminal cases and that “it will likely lead to a robust legal debate” on whether the discriminatory origins of certain immigration policies should mean those laws are not applicable.

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