The Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols must be resumed by the Biden administration, a federal judge ruled in Texas. File photo by Yuri Gripas/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 14 (UPI) -- A federal judge has ordered the Biden administration to reinstate and enforce "in good faith" a Trump-era policy requiring asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their U.S. court hearings.
The so-called Remain in Mexico program, instituted by President Donald Trump in 2018 and formally rescinded by Biden's Department of Homeland Security on June 1, must continue to be enforced, U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk ruled Friday in Amarillo, Texas.
Under the policy, border officials directed some 68,000 asylum seekers to return to Mexico, where human rights advocates say they are forced to seek refuge in squalid and dangerous tent camps on the Mexico side of the border.
Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, found in favor of the states of Texas and Missouri in the suit, agreeing with them that Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas did not give sufficient weight to the "main benefits" of the program, formally known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP.
Mayorkas, he ruled, erred in claiming that the MPP was "arbitrary" and in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, or APA, a law set up to prevent "capricious" implementation of administration policies.
Kacsmaryk also sided with the the states' contention that the policy's reversal causes them harm because asylum seekers allowed to wait in the United States are likely to access government services and send their children to U.S. schools.
He ordered the administration to "enforce and implement the MPP in good faith until such a time as it has been lawfully rescinded in compliance with the APA and until such a time as the federal government has sufficient detention capacity" to detain asylum seekers.
The decision is "a big step toward securing the border," Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said in a statement. "The Biden administration's lax border policies increase the risk for human trafficking at the border and, in turn, in Missouri."
Asylum seekers wait in line for food near El Chaparral plaza in Tijuana, Mexico on March 21. Photo by Ariana Drehsler/UPI | License Photo