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The decision struck a blow to President Joe Biden’s effort to reverse the border policies of his predecessor, Donald Trump

A US district court has ruled that the federal government must retain a policy requiring some migrants and asylum-seekers to wait out their immigration proceedings in Mexico, overruling the White House in favor of Republican state officials.

Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Northern District Court of Texas issued a 35-page decision on Thursday arguing that the Joe Biden administration had failed to “adequately consider costs to states” should the ‘Remain in Mexico’ rule be terminated. He stayed a June Supreme Court ruling which authorized the government to end the policy, known formally as the ‘Migrant Protection Protocols’ (MPP), saying it must continue pending “final resolution” of the legal case. 

While former President Donald Trump first introduced the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy in 2017, Biden has sought to return to a ‘Catch and Release’ approach, in which undocumented migrants are permitted to reside in the US while they are processed through the immigration system. The White House attempted to abolish the MPP soon after Biden took office in 2021, but Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt, both Republicans, sued the government to keep the policy in place.

Both officials cheered Thursday’s decision, with Paxton declaring that he had “secured an order from a federal court ordering Biden not to scrap the program,” while Schmitt said the MPP is “vital.”

Around 70,000 migrants have been sent back to Mexico under the policy, according to the New York Post, but that is just a small fraction of the record number of people attempting to enter the United States in recent months. US Customs and Border Protection has recorded more than 2.3 million encounters with migrants along the border with Mexico in 2022, well over the 1.7 million counted last year, and around five-times greater than the 458,000 run-ins seen in 2020.

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