Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials announced Monday they are preparing to terminate Trump’s “Remain in Mexico” border policy in a “quick and orderly manner.”
The announcement follows the U.S. Supreme Court upholding a ruling, 5-4, at the beginning of August, which allows the Biden Administration to end the Migrant Protection Protocols, which required asylum seekers and other migrants who arrive at the U.S. southern border to remain in Mexico while they awaited their immigration trial. But with the nation’s highest court paving a path for DHS officials to forego Trump’s immigration policy, those waiting in Mexico until their trial date have the option to cross the border and stay in the United States while awaiting the outcome.
“As Secretary Mayorkas has said, [Migrant Protection Protocols], has endemic flaws, imposes unjustifiable human costs, and pulls resources and personnel away from other priority efforts to secure our border,” the DHS statement reads.
However, supporters of Trump’s border policy called it an effective deterrent for illegal immigrants coming to the border claiming asylum, adding the program has been a net benefit since around 70,000 asylum-seekers have successfully passed through the program while those seeking to enter the country illegally have been detained.
In 2021, President Joe Biden ordered an end to policy but faced litigation from Missouri and Texas, which sued the president’s administration for violating the Administrative Procedure Act, which governs the process by which federal agencies develop and issue regulations. A lower court ordered the Biden administration to reinstate the policy last December.
DHS officials said that approximately 70,000 migrants were subject to the policy until President Biden suspended it on his first day in office in January 2021. Since the court forced Biden to reinstate the policy, nearly 5,800 migrants were subject from December to June, with many traveling from Nicaragua, Cuba, Columbia, and Venezuela.
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WS), who serves as a ranking member of the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, sent a letter to DHS officials earlier this year after obtaining data from the federal agency. The data disclosed that between March and August 2021, over 270,000 illegal immigrants were dispersed into the United States with little chance of removal.
Of those, over 50,000 —more than half released into the United States under a Notice to Report (NTR)—failed to appear to begin deportation proceedings.
“DHS further clarified that between March 21, 2021, and December 5, 2021, ICE issued 50,683 NTAs to aliens previously released on an NTR,” Johnson said in a statement. “For over 40,000 of those cases, ICE does not have data on what immigration court is overseeing these cases, despite the fact that ICE acts as the prosecutor in deportation proceedings.”
Fox News reported Biden’s administration’ began using the Notice to Report process in March as migrant apprehensions at the southern border dramatically spiked in the initial days of the administration. Rather than issuing a Notice to Appear, which gives migrants a time and date for a hearing, NTR processes migrants into the country in as little as 15 minutes.
DHS officials said more information on the program’s status would be released in the coming days and that immigrants enrolled should follow the directions on their court documents and tear sheets to appear for their scheduled court date as required.
Charlotte Pence Bond and Tim Meads contributed to this report.