Texas, Missouri sue Biden administration over scrapping of 'Remain-in-Mexico' policy

It's one of a flurry of lawsuits filed by Republican states over Biden administration's policies

Texas and Missouri on Tuesday sued the Biden administration for its scrapping of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) – demanding the program, which kept migrants in Mexico while their immigration hearings played out, be restored.

"President Biden could immediately remedy the influx of crime pouring across our border by reinstating the Migrant Protection Protocols," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a statement. "Dangerous criminals are taking advantage of the lapse in law enforcement and it’s resulting in human trafficking, smuggling, a plethora of violent crimes, and a massive, unprecedented burden on state and federal programs for which taxpayers must foot the bill."

TEXAS, LOUISIANA SUE BIDEN ADMINISTRATION FOR 'REFUSING' TO TAKE CRIMINAL ILLEGAL IMMIGRANTS

MPP, known as the "Remain-in-Mexico" policy, was set up and expanded in 2019 as part of an agreement with Mexico. The policy saw tens of thousands of migrants kept in Mexico as they awaited their hearings, instead of being released into the U.S. Their asylum claims were processed in tent courts set up at border points.

Opponents, including President Biden, called the policy cruel as it put migrants in camps south of the border and at risk of violence. However, proponents said it both ended "catch-and-release" and dramatically cut the pull factors drawing migrants – who had been tempted north in part by the belief they would be let into the U.S. with or without a valid asylum claim.

Biden pledged to end the policy, and thousands of migrants registered in MPP have so far been let into the U.S.

ARIZONA, MONTANA SUE TO BLOCK DHS RULES THAT WOULD LIMIT ICE ARRESTS

The lawsuit says the surge at the border, encouraged by the ending of MPP, has "inflicted serious costs on Texas as organized crime and drug cartels prey on migrant communities and children through human trafficking, violence, extortion, sexual assault and exploitation." DHS said it could not comment at this time due to pending litigation.

Meanwhile, the lawsuit says the move has hurt Missouri’s fight against human trafficking, arguing that irresponsible border-security policies that invite and encourage human traffickers to exploit vulnerable border-crossing victims irreparably injure Missouri and other States." 

The lawsuit comes as the Biden administration is scrambling to cope with a surge in migration at the border. There were more than 172,000 migrant encounters in March, including a record number of unaccompanied children (UACs). Overwhelmed border officials have been releasing some migrant families into the interior of the U.S.

ARIZONA AG SUES BIDEN ADMINISTRATION OVER IMMIGRATION POLICIES THAT HARM ENVIRONMENT 

While the Biden administration has downplayed the crisis, calling it a "challenge" and describing the spike as seasonal, Republicans have blamed the surge on the rollback of Trump-era border protections – in particular MPP.

"With border enforcement agencies stretched thin, it’s time that President Biden reinstate President Trump’s Migrant Protection Protocols, quell the crisis at the border, and ensure that Missouri and the United States are able to effectively combat human trafficking," Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt said.

The lawsuit is one of a number filed by Republican states aimed at Biden’s immigration policies. Texas successfully sued to stop an attempt to impose a moratorium on deportations, saying it would harm states like Texas and was in breach of an agreement signed in the last days of the Trump administration.

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Texas and Louisiana both sued the Department of Homeland Security last week for its alleged refusal to take criminal illegal immigrants into custody, after rules that narrowed enforcement priorities.

This week, Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich filed a lawsuit, requesting the decision to stop border wall construction and MPP be reversed until the federal government complies with obligations under the National Environmental Policy Act, which demands federal agencies weigh environmental considerations before taking federal action, including possible population growth.