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Schmitt successful in challenge to Biden administration immigration policy

A federal judge ordered the Biden administration Friday to continue the Trump-era Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP) program, which keeps migrants in Mexico as they await a hearing — a win for Attorney General Eric Schmitt

Schmitt along with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued the Biden administration in April in an effort to reinstate the MPP program, also referred to as the “Remain-in-Mexico” plan. The pair argued the MPP reduced detention and enforcement burdens for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) among other agencies. 

The Biden administration had suspended the program in January. 

U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk of the Northern District of Texas, in a 53-page order Friday, told the Biden administration to reinstate the MPP. However, the order does not go into effect for seven days to allow the federal government to file an emergency appeal. 

Still, Schmitt heralded the order as “a huge win.”

“My office has been leading the way nationally in fighting human trafficking, and the Biden administration’s lax border policies increase the risk for human trafficking at the border, and in turn, in Missouri,” Schmitt, a Republican running for U.S. Senate, said. “Today’s massive win was crucial — re-implementing the Migrant Protection Protocols will help secure the border and fight the scourge of human trafficking.” 

The judge also ordered the government to file a monthly report beginning in September that includes total monthly encounters at the border, the number of people expelled, total detention capacity, and total monthly number of applicants, among other things. 

Kacsmaryk, a Trump appointee, said suspending the MPP has caused “fiscal injury” to Missouri and Texas, pointing specifically to costs associated with health care, education, and enforcement and correctional services. 

DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, who is named in lawsuit, has come under fire from Republicans after leaked audio surfaced of him calling the situation at the border “unsustainable” while speaking to Border Patrol agents. Authorities made more than 212,000 apprehensions at the border in July, a 13 percent increase from June, he has publicly said.

As attorney general, Schmitt has often taken on the federal government since President Joe Biden took office earlier this year. He told Fox News last month that he was “optimistic” for a favorable outcome.

Schmitt and other GOP candidates for U.S. Senate in Missouri have made the border crisis a priority as they campaign for office.

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This story has been updated.