Barbed wire has been placed on the fence along the United States-Mexico border, shown here, heading east from Nogales, Ariz. The U.S. Supreme Court allowed the government to enforce its "Remain in Mexico" policy for asylum seekers on Wednesday, while lawsuits against the policy work their way through the court system. File Photo by Art Foxall/UPI | License Photo
March 11 (UPI) -- The Supreme Court allowed the White House to continue its "Remain in Mexico" policy on Wednesday, keeping asylum seekers from entering the United States.
The policy, named the Migrant Protection Protocols, calls for asylum seekers, largely traveling from Central America, to encamp in Mexico and not the United States until their individual cases are heard. Over 60,000 people have been barred from U.S. entry since the policy was established in early 2019.
The program has been credited for lowering the number of border crossings to the United States. It has been used to "process tens of thousands of aliens applying for asylum ... without the need to detain the applicants in the United States during the weeks and months it takes to process their applications," a Department of Homeland Security court filing last week said.
The announcement Wednesday is not a Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the MPP. It only allows the program to continue as a number of lawsuits against it proceed through the federal courts.
White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham praised the ruling as a victory for the Trump administration.
"By allowing Migrant Protection Protocols to remain in effect, the court has prevented dangerous chaos at the southern border, avoided a significant escalation in public health threats and mitigated damage to foreign relations," she said.
A California federal district court ruled in April that the policy violates U.S. immigration law and breaches international human rights norms. It ordered the administration of President Donald Trump to end the practice along the U.S.-Mexico border. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, but narrowed the injunction, scheduled to take effect on Thursday, to only apply to the two border states in its jurisdiction, California and Arizona.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor was the only justice to publicly dissent from Wednesday's ruling, a brief announcement from the court said.