Biden’s Revival of Trump Border Policy Challenged as Too Soft

The Biden administration’s court-ordered restart of the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” border program includes too many exceptions for vulnerable migrants, a new legal challenge says.

West Virginia on Wednesday accused the Department of Homeland Security of creating loopholes that undermine the policy, also known as the Migrant Protection Protocols, requiring migrants to wait in Mexico for months while U.S. officials review their asylum claims.

President Joe Biden scrapped the policy earlier this year but reinstated it, with some changes, in response to a court order. The revived program exempts many older migrants, those with medical conditions, and those at risk of harm in Mexico due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Trump-Era Mexico Policy to Return After Court Snubbed Biden

The exceptions “go beyond the statutory authority of DHS and drastically undermine the reimplementation of the MPP program,” West Virginia said in an amended complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia. The state is also challenging a set of DHS memos outlining the agency’s justification for seeking to terminate the program.

Immigrants’ rights advocates, meanwhile, have challenged the Biden administration’s reinstatement of Remain in Mexico as overly broad. A coalition of House and Senate Democrats this week slammed the administration for expanding the program to apply to all migrants from the western hemisphere, whereas the Trump-era policy focused on people from Spanish-speaking countries.

The case is W.Va. v. Dept. of Homeland Security, N.D. W.Va., No. 2:21-cv-00022, 12/22/21.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ellen M. Gilmer in Washington at egilmer@bloombergindustry.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage at sbabbage@bgov.com; Robin Meszoly at rmeszoly@bgov.com

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