Chicago immigration rights advocates react to Supreme Court ruling on 'Remain in Mexico' policy

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Thursday, June 30, 2022
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Chicago area immigration rights advocates react after the Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration can end the Trump-era "remain in Mexico" immigration policy.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that the Biden administration can end the "Remain in Mexico" immigration policy that forced thousands of asylum seekers to wait south of the border while their cases were being decided.

Lawrence Benito saw the inhumane living conditions firsthand. In 2019, the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights CEO crossed the border into Mexico to help over 70,000 asylum seekers stuck in Mexico because of the controversial Trump administration policy.

SEE ALSO | Supreme Court allows President Biden to end Trump's 'Remain in Mexico' policy for asylum seekers

"The 70,000 included tens of thousands of children," Benito said, "and they were denied basic health care, education, and legal representation in some cases."

The Trump-era policy was known as the "Remain in Mexico" policy. It required migrants from countries all over the world to remain in Mexico while their cases were being reviewed in the U.S.

"They were literally right on the other side of the border at the checkpoint, and living on the street in tents or whatever makeshift shelter they could create with no electricity or running water and no access to food," Benito said.

President Biden attempted to end the policy, and the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for the administration to shut the program down, allowing asylum seekers to enter the U.S. while their cases are heard.

"A lot of these folks are fleeing conflict," said Fasika Alem, United African Organization.

Alem says the asylum seekers included thousands of Africans. She says a growing number fleeing for their lives are finding the only viable option to get to the United States is traveling through several Latin American countries before making it to the U.S./Mexico border.

"For Africans, they were very much left in harm's way when they had to remain in Mexico," Alem said.

Alem said there were several reports of Africans who faced discrimination and harassment.

The Supreme Court decision is a big victory for President Biden's immigration policies. The administration has suffered many losses in lower court in attempts to reverse Trump-era immigration policies.