It’s called MPP, and it drives liberals crazy. And thanks to a judge in the 9th Circuit, it’s going to be in practice for a little while longer.
MPP stands for Migrant Protection Protocols, although if you’ve heard of it, it’s likely under its popular nickname, “remain in Mexico.” Roughly speaking, the program forces asylum seekers who present themselves at certain points of entry to stay south of the border until their asylum claims work their way through the U.S. court system.
The purpose of MPP was to ensure that asylum seekers weren’t beneficiaries of the “catch and release” policy, where they would be allowed to remain in the United States — likely not in custody and with minimal federal oversight — as their cases were processed.
The administration has claimed that the influx of family units at the southern border is specifically because these individuals know that the system is overburdened.
Even though their asylum claims may be specious at best, as soon as they’re in the United States, the government almost certainly has to release them, particularly given the short length of time the government can hold minors under the Flores settlement.
Earlier this week, District Judge Richard Seeborg ordered the program to shut down.
In his ruling, according to The Washington Post, Seeborg didn’t address “whether the MPP is a wise, intelligent, or humane policy, or whether it is the best approach for addressing the circumstances the executive branch contends constitute a crisis.”
Instead, he said that the agreement was likely in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, the Immigration and Nationality Act and other laws which afford protections so that individuals “are not returned to unduly dangerous circumstances.”
Seeborg added that “there is no real question that it includes the possibility of irreparable injury.” (Apparently, “catch and release” doesn’t carry that same possibility.)
The ruling came as Seeborg said the Trump administration was about to expand the program from the three ports of entry that it was being used at: San Ysidro and Calexico in California and El Paso in Texas.
It was looking like a major loss for the Trump administration. And then, things turned around.
“The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of President Trump Friday when it determined that the government can at least temporarily continue to send asylum seekers back to Mexico,” The Hill reported.
“The asylum program was scheduled to be shut down at midnight under an order from District Court Judge Richard Seeborg, but the White House had requested the appeals court to intervene.”
“The 9th Circuit temporarily stayed the lower court’s ruling as the parties get ready to submit their arguments next week on the government’s request for a longer stay that would likely last months.”
It didn’t take the president long to celebrate the legal victory.
Finally, great news at the Border! https://t.co/nofzYa2Qs7
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 13, 2019
So, what does this mean in the long term? This is the 9th Circuit Court, after all, which hasn’t gotten a reputation as being amenable to Trump’s policies.
However, the fact that they were willing to stay the ruling is at least a sign that MPP will still be around for some time. No, it’s hardly perfect. It’s not going to solve the crisis at our southern border. It is a start, though, and one could certainly argue it’s legal given the broad powers vested in the president by the Immigration and Nationality Act. (Apparently, some people don’t remember how Trump v. Hawaii ended.)
If Trump can keep MPP, it would also be a huge win heading into the 2020 election. Immigration is going to be a major issue, then as it was in 2016.
While the president won’t have the wall, he’ll hopefully have some major victories on that front. Stopping asylum catch and release would definitely be one of them.
This is likely headed to the Supreme Court, but at least for now, the policy remains in place and the Trump administration can claim a minor victory — one which they can hopefully build upon.
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