Outcome of case will determine future of the inhumane Remain in Mexico program and set critical legal precedent on executive powers
LOS ANGELES—Today, 41 organizations launch the #SafeNotStranded campaign to shed light on Biden v. Texas, which the Supreme Court will hear on April 26. The case not only concerns the future of the Trump administration’s cruel Remain in Mexico (RMX) program that persists to this day; it also raises critical questions on executive powers. The campaign launches as amici briefs in support of the Biden administration’s position are filed today, including one by 59 organizations detailing the horrific human costs of RMX and the legal flaws that have led to its continuation under Biden presidency. The launch also coincides with advocates across the country marking the second anniversary of Title 42, another Trump-era immigration policy which, compounded with RMX, practically eviscerates our asylum system.
Today’s amici brief co-authored by Justice Action Center (JAC) and the Refugee and Immigration Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) with pro bono support from Sidley Austin relays stories submitted by campaign parters of children, families, and adults who have been kidnapped, beaten, raped, trafficked, and extorted in Mexico while enrolled in RMX. It also details how Remain in Mexico promotes de facto family separation, as parents are compelled to send their young children across the border alone in desperate attempts to protect them. Asylum seekers who are LGBTQ+, disabled, Black, Indigenous, or pregnant are especially vulnerable and targeted in these border camps.
The campaign highlights the serious legal implications at stake in Biden v. Texas: If the Supreme Court upholds the Fifth Circuit decision, future administrations of any political affiliation may be undermined in enacting their own domestic and foreign policy agendas, thwarting the will of the American electorate. What’s more, the U.S. government could be ordered to uphold the indefinite reinstatement of RMX until the U.S. government can demonstrate it has the infrastructure to detain every single asylum seeker—an extreme, unlawful, and unprecedented reading of the nation’s immigration law by a single federal district judge.
“Voters rejected President Trump’s failed policies at the ballot box in 2018 and 2020. Blocking President Biden’s power to reverse Trump’s executive orders has wide sweeping implications on the power of the Executive Branch,” said Karen Tumlin, Founder and Director of Justice Action Center. “Unless the Supreme Court rejects the lower court decision, people fleeing for their lives will continue to suffer extreme violence and cruelty in violation of their congressional and statutory rights to seek safety. Upholding the Fifth Circuit decision would affirm an attack on the very values and system of our American democracy.”
“The wrong outcome in Biden v. Texas could lead to not only the reinstatement of Trump’s cruel Remain in Mexico policy, but it would require future administrations to maintain the policy indefinitely,” said Erin Mazursky, Interim Managing Director for Families Belong Together. “This flies in the face of America’s longstanding tradition to offer safety and a fair process to those fleeing for their lives. They came to our doorstep with a belief in America—and our government sent them into danger. It does not take a law degree to understand the real suffering the Remain in Mexico policy is still causing today. By denying asylum, the Trump administration sent families, children and pregnant women into a dangerous environment that lead to thousands being kidnapped, raped or murdered. This is what is at stake.”
“From its very inception, Remain in Mexico was always about using cruelty to deter people in desperate need of protection from seeking relief in the United States, and we have seen first hand the devastating human impacts of this harmful approach,” said Susie Haslett, Director of Immigration Capacity Building for FWD.us. “The idea that our judicial system could force this administration, or future administrations, to continue inflicting cruelty on people is unthinkable, with consequences far beyond border and immigration policy. It is imperative that as the Supreme Court considers this case, that they do so clear-eyed to the human costs that hang in the balance of their decision.”
“The Biden v. Texas case is of critical importance due to its implications on Executive Power and RAICES urges the Justices of the Supreme Court to reverse the lower court’s decision. But the case is also important to ensure that people seeking refuge in our country are not in harm’s way and that the right to asylum is protected, said Tami Goodlette, Director of Litigation, RAICES.
“As set forth in the amici brief authored by RAICES and Justice Action Center, far too many families, women, and children have suffered irreparable harm as a result of the cruel and immoral ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy. From kidnapping, extortion, rape, and inhumane conditions, the policy has caused an alarming human rights crisis since the Trump administration first created and implemented it in 2019.
“The Supreme Court should reject the lower court’s decision and ensure that President Biden and future administrations have the autonomy to implement their own policies and that the harm imposed on migrants seeking safety in our country comes to a final end.”
#SafeNotStranded is a coalition powered by thousands of people and organizations including Families Belong Together, FWD.us, Justice Action Center, and many more. Representatives can be made available for comment across the duration of the campaign, which will last until after the Supreme Court is expected to announce a decision in early Summer 2022.