Appeals court refuses to stop order forcing Biden admin to restart inhumane asylum policy

Appeals court refuses to stop order forcing Biden admin to restart inhumane asylum policy

An appeals court late Thursday left in place a ruling that orders the Biden administration to restart the previous administration’s inhumane and unlawful Remain in Mexico policy. Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, appointed by the previous administration, had last week ruled in favor of a Republican-led lawsuit, though he paused his decision for seven days, and the Biden administration very quickly appealed. But last night, “[t]he request was denied” BuzzFeed News reports. It was a 3-0 decision. “The Biden administration can now request an emergency stay with the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Noted civil rights attorney Karen Tumlin called Kacsmaryk’s ruling last week “a truly bizarre decision,” writing that it forces the administration to “either restart this program or prove that it can jail every asylum seeker—something that is both morally repugnant and not achievable. The @JusticeDept moved quickly, asking the 5th circuit to block this order ASAP. The 5th Circuit failed to do so, creating the conditions for more people to be harmed.”

Like both Tumlin and BuzzFeed News note, the Biden administration will likely now go to the Supreme Court, possibly as soon as today. “If that happens, it’ll be the first time this admin asks the Court to stop a state’s attack on Biden priorities,” Tumlin said. CBS News immigration reporter Camilo Montoya-Galvez said the administration first needs Mexico to agree to the policy, something that has not yet happened. Under Kacsmaryk’s order, the Biden administration would need to restart Remain in Mexico by tomorrow, Saturday:

The Biden administration says it can’t do this without Mexico’s consent. The Fifth Circuit’s response: “If the Government’s good-faith efforts to implement MPP are thwarted by Mexico, it nonetheless will be in compliance with the district court’s order … ”

— Camilo Montoya-Galvez (@camiloreports) August 20, 2021

How this plays out next, I don’t know, but I do know that this was a dangerous policy that pushed roughly 70,000 people who were already vulnerable into more harm. “Often left with nowhere to go but squalid camps in Mexican border towns, human rights advocates reported cases of the immigrants being kidnapped, raped, and tortured while the U.S. government forced them to wait there,” BuzzFeed News said. Some had been living in the border camp for over a year when Biden won the election last November.

“This is not only a Biden victory,” Venezuelan asylum-seeker Mervin Hidalgo told BuzzFeed News at the time. “We migrants also won, and we are very happy. Seeing Trump once again sit on his throne would have been fatal for us.” Nicaraguan asylum-seeker Jose Lopez told BuzzFeed News that “[w]e thanked God because he heard our cries. We were victims of a project that was truly harmful to people’s humanity … We thought we were invisible to the world, but we weren’t to God. We’re overjoyed right now.”

The federal courts are ordering the Biden administration to immediately restart Remain in Mexico, an illegal and inhumane policy that violates the rights of asylum seekers and puts lives in danger. The administration must swiftly appeal and fully restore asylum at the border.

— HopeBorderInstitute (@HopeBorder) August 20, 2021

“During the two years that the Trump administration forcibly returned people to danger under MPP, Human Rights First tracked at least 1,544 public reports of violent attacks against asylum seekers and migrants subjected to MPP, including kidnapping, rape, and murder,” the organization said in June. That’s what Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton want to return asylum-seekers to. “Big win for border security,” Schmitt triumphantly proclaimed following Kacsmaryk’s ruling. Not really. Big win for him, yes, big loss for humanity.

UPDATE: The administration has appealed to the Supreme Court. “In recent years, this Court has repeatedly stayed broad lower-court injunctions against Executive Branch policies addressing matters of immigration, foreign policy, and migration management,” the Justice Department said in court documents. “It should do the same here.”

JUST IN: The Biden admin has turned to the Supreme Court to halt a lower court order requiring the revival of the “remain in Mexico” policy, after a federal appeals court denied the admin’s request late Thursday.

— Priscilla Alvarez (@priscialva) August 20, 2021

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