The Supreme Court on Friday temporarily halted a federal judge’s order to reinstate the Trump administration’s “Remain in Mexico” policy, which under the previous administration meant asylum seekers needed to wait outside of the United States for their cases to be decided.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. issued the order late Friday, granting a temporary stay until Tuesday night so the full court can consider the case.

A federal judge had ordered on Aug. 13 that the program, formally known as Migrant Protection Protocols, be reinstated Saturday. Biden administration officials appealed the decision, but a federal appellate court on Thursday refused to grant a delay.

Shortly after taking office, President Biden used executive orders to suspend “Remain in Mexico” and other Trump-era immigration policies that he believed to be “counterproductive” to an “orderly and humane immigration system.”

“I’m not making new law. I’m eliminating bad policy,” Biden said then.

The Department of Homeland Security said it would terminate the “Remain in Mexico” program in June. The decision was met with criticism from Republican lawmakers and governors, who claimed the program served as a deterrent to would-be migrants.

Under the program, more than 60,000 asylum seekers were sent to wait outside U.S. territory while their claims were processed in immigration courts. U.S. asylum officers under President Donald Trump had filed legal challenges to the policy in 2019, alleging that the camps migrants were forced to wait at outside the United States were a threat to their lives and that asylum seekers and refugees should have a way to escape persecution in their homelands.

The experimental U.S. policy requires migrants to wait in Mexico while their asylum claims are processed. (Luis Velarde/The Washington Post)

Despite the federal judge’s order to reinstate the “remain in Mexico” program, it is unclear how realistic that would have been. Restarting the program would not have been feasible without Mexico’s cooperation, federal officials have said.

A Mexican Foreign Ministry official said the issue had not come up as of Friday.

“We have not been notified about it, and we have no official communication from the government of the United States about the matter, so we can’t comment at the moment,” the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive issue.

The Biden administration is currently expelling most single adults apprehended at the southwest border to Mexico or their home countries, under a public-health order the Trump administration issued at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The new administration, however, has been admitting most migrant families and unaccompanied minors, and their numbers have risen sharply this year.

Alito’s decision to block the judge’s order was met with cautious optimism by immigration activists, who have urged Biden administration officials to end the MPP program for good.

“The Trump Administration’s MPP program was not only cruel and inhumane, it was also unjust — and, the Biden Administration was absolutely correct in putting an end to it,” Kerri Talbot, deputy director of the nonprofit group Immigration Hub, said in a statement.

“Trump’s MPP put thousands of vulnerable asylum-seekers at risk of extreme violence in camps, with at least 1,500 reported instances of murder, rape, kidnapping, and other violent attacks while they waited in limbo without representation and safety,” the statement said.

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