The U.S. Supreme Court sided with President Biden on Thursday as he seeks to end a hardline immigration policy begun under President Trump that forced tens of thousands of migrants to stay in Mexico to await U.S. hearings on their asylum claims, Reuters reports. The justices, in a 5-4 ruling by Chief Justice John Roberts, overturned a federal appeals court decision requiring Biden to restart Trump's "remain in Mexico" policy after the Republican-led states of Texas and Missouri sued to maintain the program. The ruling is a victory for Biden and his plan to implement a more "humane" approach at the southern border. The justices concluded that the New Orleans-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit erred in finding that federal immigration law required sending migrants back to Mexico if there was not enough space to detain them in the U.S.
The justices also threw out the 5th Circuit's decision to void the Biden administration's June 2021 decision to end the program. The 5th Circuit found that the administration had failed to explain its rescinding of the Trump policy, in violation of federal administrative law. The justices found that the June 2021 decision was superseded by a new, more detailed one issued by the administration four months later. The Trump administration adopted the policy, formally called the "Migrant Protection Protocols," in 2018 in response to an increase in migration along the U.S.-Mexican border. It prevented certain non-Mexican migrants, including asylum seekers fearing persecution in their home countries, from being released into the U.S. to await immigration proceedings, instead returning them to Mexico.Biden suspended the "remain in Mexico" policy in January 2021 shortly after taking office. Roughly 68,000 people fell under the policy from the time it took effect in 2019 until Biden suspended it.