The Department of Justice said Friday that it is weighing its options after a federal court refused to pause an order requiring the Biden administration to reinstate an immigration policy that forces asylum seekers arriving at the nation’s southern border to await approval in Mexico.
Earlier this year, President Joe Biden ended the so-called Remain in Mexico policy. First implemented by former President Donald Trump, the policy required migrants seeking asylum in the U.S. to remain in Mexico until their court dates. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, ordered last week that the Biden administration reinstate the policy by Friday, a ruling the Department of Justice appealed.
That appeal was rejected unanimously on Thursday by a three-judge panel from the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, a move that could force the Biden administration to seek relief from the Supreme Court. In a statement, the Department of Justice said that it “is reviewing the ruling and considering potential next steps.”
This controversy over Remain in Mexico comes as a record number of migrants, including many unaccompanied children, are crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to seek asylum.
The Biden administration has worked to implement what it has characterized as a more humane policy for migrants arriving at the border, ending the Trump administration practice of separating families who cross the border together and working to reunite those who were separated while Trump was president. But Biden has faced criticism for his administration’s continued reliance on detention facilities for some migrants, including unaccompanied children, seeking asylum in the U.S.
Vice President Kamala Harris has spearheaded the Biden administration effort to combat the conditions in the Northern Triangle countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador that have prompted migrants to seek refuge in the U.S. But that push has made little clear headway and the White House has faced criticism as record numbers of migrants arrived at the border this summer, a season when high temperatures typically keep asylum seekers from approaching the border.
Josh Gerstein contributed to this report.