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David Isaacson on the MPP Decision

August 19, 2021 (2 min read)

David Isaacson, Aug. 18, 2021

"On Friday, August 13, U.S. District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas issued an Opinion and Order ruling in favor of the states of Texas and Missouri in a lawsuit that they had brought against the Biden Administration, seeking to force the Administration to reinstate the so-called “Migrant Protection Protocols” (MPP) created by the Trump Administration.  Human Rights First, among others, had previously observed that MPP was more aptly described as Migrant Persecution Protocols; I will use only the initials from this point on, since they can apply either way.

The gist of MPP was the return of asylum applicants to Mexico, pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1225(b)(2)(C), while their applications were pending. As the American Immigration Council explained, many applicants were placed in grave danger in Mexico, and many were unable to return to the United States for their hearings at the appointed time. Upon taking office, the Biden Administration suspended new enrollments into the program on January 20, 2021, and terminated the program on June 1. Texas and Missouri sued to overturn that decision.

The Opinion and Order, the effect of which was stayed for seven days to allow an emergency appeal, held that the termination of MPP violated the Administrative Procedure Act and 8 U.S.C. § 1225. Judge Kacsmaryk therefore vacated the June 1 memorandum terminating MPP, and ordered the government

to enforce and implement MPP in good faith until such a time as it has been lawfully rescinded in compliance with the APA and until such a time as the federal government has sufficient detention capacity to detain all aliens subject to mandatory detention under Section 1255 without releasing any aliens because of a lack of detention resources.

Opinion and Order at p. 52, ¶ 3.

There are a great many problems with the reasoning supporting the Opinion and Order, which I am sure will be elucidated in the coming days by others. Rather than seeking to give a comprehensive account of everything wrong with the Opinion and Order, however, I want to focus here on one particular issue: assuming that it is meant to have significant practical effect, the Opinion and Order is internally contradictory. While it is not completely clear what exactly the government is being ordered to do, the only way for the answer not to be, “almost nothing”, is for various statements in the Opinion and Order to be incorrect. ... "