The Supreme Court issued a controversial decision in Biden v. Texas this week. The decision suggests that the Department of Homeland Security committed a legal violation when it rescinded a Trump-era immigration policy. This will likely force the Biden administration to engage in sensitive negotiations with at least one foreign government without specifying what it needs to secure in those negotiations. The central issue in the case is the Biden administration’s decision to terminate former President Donald Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which required many asylum seekers arriving at the United States’ southern border to stay in Mexico while they awaited a hearing on their asylum claim. Although the policy was formally ended under Biden, it hasn’t been in effect since March 2020, when the federal government imposed heightened restrictions on border crossings due to Covid-19.
Nevertheless, a Trump-appointed federal judge, Matthew Kacsmaryk, ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the policy, and he gave the administration exactly one week to do so. The Supreme Court’s order effectively requires the administration to comply with Kacsmaryk’s order. However, this case is still on appeal. The Biden administration requested a stay of Kacsmaryk’s order while its appeal is pending. But the administration is now under an immediate obligation to comply with that order. The big question remains whether or not the Mexican government would be receptive to this type of abrupt policy change.