San Francisco joins amicus brief urging U.S. Supreme Court to vacate harmful immigration ruling

Brief argues Trump immigration policy has untold psychological and economic consequences for asylum seekers and the communities they live in

SAN FRANCISCO (March 22, 2022) — San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu joined 24 other cities and counties in filing an amicus brief today in Biden v. Texas urging the U.S. Supreme Court to reverse a lower court decision requiring the Biden Administration to continue a Trump Administration immigration policy that intensifies family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. The brief, led by Los Angeles County and O’Melveny and Myers LLP, calls on the Court to vacate a lower court decision that compels the Biden Administration to continue the Migration Protection Protocols (MPP) policy, which requires asylum seekers to remain in Mexico while claims for asylum are pending.

City Attorney David Chiu
City Attorney David Chiu

“The trauma and emotional toll of family separation cannot be overstated, but we also must acknowledge the real economic costs of family separation on cities like San Francisco,” said San Francisco City Attorney David Chiu. “We urge the court to allow the Biden Administration to do away with this inhumane policy.”

MPP, instituted by the Trump Administration in January 2019, requires certain asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border to stay in Mexico while their asylum applications are pending. The policy has created dangerous and inhumane conditions at the southern border. Mass crowding and the likelihood of violence have forced many asylum seekers to send their children to the United States while they remain in Mexico awaiting application processing. This can sometimes lead to permanent family separation.

MPP also prevents immigrants from effectively participating in the asylum process as the dangerous conditions near the border cause some MPP enrollees to miss their court dates resulting in in absentia orders of removal. A staggering 41 percent of MPP enrollees have either had their cases terminated or received in absentia orders of removal.

The brief filed today argues that MPP exacerbates family separation and has long-term, lasting economic consequences for immigrants and the communities they call home. San Francisco along with dozens of state and local governments across the country have invested in legal services to help asylum seekers pursue their immigration cases. The chaotic nature of the MPP process coupled with the disproportionately high rate of in absentia orders of removal make those investments far less effective.

The Biden Administration sought to correct the harms created by MPP and suspended new enrollments in the program on January 20, 2021. The policy was them terminated on June 1, 2021. The States of Texas and Missouri filed suit in the Northern District of Texas challenging the suspension of MPP in April 2021, and the district court issued an injunction requiring the Biden Administration to continue the harmful policy. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit affirmed the district court ruling, and the Biden Administration appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The case is Joseph R. Biden, Jr., et al., v. State of Texas, State of Missouri, in the United States Supreme Court, No. 21-954. A copy of the amicus brief can be found here.