A U.S. Supreme Court justice on Friday, Aug. 20, issued a temporary restraining order on resuming a border policy enacted by the Trump administration. 

A lower court ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy, making asylum seekers reside in Mexico while waiting for their court hearings for entering the United States.

According to Reuters, Justice Samuel Alito, a conservative, placed a temporary block on that order while reviewing the Biden administration’s postponement request on the effective date of the ruling. 

When the U.S. District Court Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk issued his order to have MPP reinstated, he alleged the Biden administration’s stopping the policy had “contributed to the current border surge.” The order is due to take effect this Saturday.

According to the outlet, the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had declined such a delay request on Thursday. But given the Biden administration must operate the MPP program “in good faith,” it allows for some flexibility in how to proceed.

Democrats and immigration groups derided MPP for subjecting primarily Central American migrants to unclean conditions, kidnap, abuse, and rape risks.

However, supporters of the policy argued that it plays a deterrent role for illegal migrants, which would reduce the strain on immigration officials. In addition, they alleged that a massive number of asylum seekers at the border had sequentially led to other social insecurities such as drug smuggling, human trafficking, and most recently, the spread of COVID-19.

Judge Kacsmaryk argued that the Biden administration could not offer detention facilities to all the illegal border crossers. The Trump-era policy equates to federal law, which required they be kept in custody.

In recent months, apprehension of illegal migrants in the U.S.–Mexico border has reached 20-year peaks, a pattern Republicans attribute to Biden’s reversal of MPP and other strict Trump immigration policies.

While most of the border restrictions by the former president were quickly overturned the day Joe Biden took office, a health order under Trump was maintained that permits border officials to deport migrants to Mexico without allowing them to request asylum in the United States.

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