The US Supreme Court has canceled arguments on two Trump-era immigration and border security cases, as President Joe Biden eases Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” policies. However, the controversial detention of minors continues.
The cases related to Trump’s use of military funding to build his long-promised wall on the US-Mexico border, and his “remain in Mexico” asylum policy that required Central American migrants to wait in Mexico while their US asylum claims were processed. Both cases had been challenged by lower courts, and the Supreme Court was preparing to hear oral arguments in their favor until the Biden administration requested this week that they be dropped.
The court sided with Biden on Wednesday, striking the arguments from this month’s calendar. Though the move does not toss out the cases entirely, Biden’s Justice Department is highly unlikely to argue in defense of these policies, and the Biden administration’s plans to suspend the asylum program and discontinue construction of the wall could effectively render them moot in the near future.
Throughout his presidential campaign, Biden described the Trump administration’s border and immigration policies as “inhumane” and “cruel.” Upon taking office, he issued executive orders pausing construction on the border wall and asking the Department of Homeland Security to review the legality of its funding.
The “Remain in Mexico” policy was paused by Trump last year, with the former president citing the threat of coronavirus. New enrolments in the policy have been indefinitely suspended by Biden and, in an executive order signed on Tuesday, the president asked the DHS to consider whether to “terminate or modify” the policy.
However, the order does not address the tens of thousands of migrants who have already entered the program since it was implemented by Trump in 2019, and are currently in Mexico awaiting a decision on their applications.
Migrants currently en route to the US border will also face a reception that differs little from the treatment offered by the Trump administration. In a statement to the media on Tuesday, the Department of Health and Human Services said it is preparing to re-open an “overflow shelter” for as many as 700 migrant children in Carrizo Springs, Texas. Trump was excoriated by the media when he opened similar detention centers in 2018, with The Guardian describing conditions in one Texas facility as “a step above being made to sleep rough under a bridge,” and Vox calling the shelters “inhumane” and “a waste of money.”
The Carrizo Springs facility had been closed since 2019, and the surge in child arrivals that prompted its reopening has been blamed on a November court order that blocked the Trump administration from expelling unaccompanied minors back across the border on arrival. Despite a subsequent court order last week allowing the Biden administration to resume this expulsion policy, a senior Biden official told Axios that there are no plans to do so.
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