The Supreme Court on Wednesday canceled courtroom arguments scheduled for the next few weeks over two aspects of former President Donald Trump’s immigration policy — a reflection of the new administration’s reversal on both issues.
The court granted the Justice Department’s request to remove two Trump administration appeals of lower court rulings from the argument calendar, one being against the use of Pentagon money to build the southern border wall and the other against making immigrants wait in Mexico instead of the U.S.
Stopping the wall project was among the first steps President Joe Biden took after he was sworn into office.
“It shall be the policy of my administration that no more American taxpayer dollars be diverted to construct a border wall,” Biden wrote in a proclamation signed Jan. 20.
The Department of Homeland Security under Biden stopped enforcing the Trump administration’s policy of sending asylum seekers from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala back across the border to Mexico instead of allowing them to wait in the U.S. for their cases to be heard.
From late January 2019 until the program was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic, more than 68,700 people were shuttled back to Mexico under what the government called the Migrant Protection Program.
Acting Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar asked the court Monday to take both cases off the calendar and “hold further proceedings in abeyance.” The border wall case was to be argued Feb. 22 with the “remain in Mexico” case to be heard a week later, on March 1.
Both cases are still pending but will probably be dismissed as moot, since Biden’s Justice Department will not defend either facet of the Trump immigration policy.
A federal appeals court ruled last June that the government improperly diverted $2.5 billion of Pentagon counter-drug program money to build more than 100 miles of border wall. The court said only Congress could approve such a transfer.
Trump ordered the use of the Defense Department money after a fight over his budget led to a partial government shutdown. It ended after Democrats approved some money for border wall construction, but considerably less than what the president wanted.
Biden ordered a 60-day pause in construction work and directed the government to review existing contracts and funding.