Supreme Court rules 'Remain in Mexico' can end. Now asylum seekers wait in Tijuana to see if it really will

Kate Morrissey, The San Diego Union-Tribune on

Published in Political News

TIJUANA, Mexico — The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Biden administration can end the "Remain in Mexico" program, but life does not appear likely to change much for asylum seekers waiting in Tijuana for their U.S. immigration court cases — at least for the near future.

The ruling led to celebrations from many advocates who have long pushed to end the controversial program officially known as Migrant Protection Protocols, or MPP. But it's not yet clear what the decision will mean for those enrolled in the program.

"The laws of the United States keep changing," said Adán, a Nicaraguan asylum seeker, speaking in Spanish. "We don't know if they'll get us out of here. This news, more than anything, generates more uncertainty."

He asked not to be fully identified because he has not yet found protection from his government, which is known for persecuting people who oppose its president-turned-dictator Daniel Ortega.

Adán recalled the feelings of confusion about what the court's decision might mean for the future as news of the decision swept through the Tijuana shelter where he has lived for the past six months while waiting on his U.S. asylum case.

He questioned whether he should even believe the reports.


Once the Union-Tribune confirmed to him that the news was true, he still hesitated to show any optimism. As far as he's concerned, he's still in limbo.

MPP began under the Trump administration in San Diego in 2019. President Joe Biden campaigned on a platform of ending the program, and his administration moved to do so in early 2021. But after a federal judge in a lawsuit from Texas and Missouri ruled that the program would have to continue, the Biden administration reimplemented it at the end of last year and expanded who is eligible.

It was that federal judge's decision that the Supreme Court overturned, sending the case back to the district court.

The uncertainty post-decision echoed through San Diego immigration courtrooms hours later.


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