U.S. Bishops’ Migration Chairman Responds to Outcome of Supreme Court Case on Migrant Protection Protocols

On June 21, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States dismissed Mayorkas v. Innovation Law Lab and ordered that the lower court’s judgment be vacated as moot. Additionally, the Court denied a motion to intervene filed by the States of Texas, Missouri, and Arizona. The case challenged the legality of the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), also known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy. Under MPP, first implemented in 2019, asylum seekers were returned to Mexico to await adjudication of their cases, where they regularly faced dangerous and inhumane conditions. The Court’s decision follows the formal termination of the program by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on June 1, 2021.

On January 22, 2021, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), together with Catholic Legal Immigration Network, Inc. (CLINIC), and Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA), filed an amicus curiae brief in the case. The brief argued that MPP is contrary to domestic and international law, which provides a legal right to seek asylum and protect against refoulement—the process of sending refugees and asylum seekers to any territory where they are likely to face threats to their life or freedom based on certain characteristics. The brief also maintained that MPP is contrary to Catholic social teaching, which calls for migrants to be welcomed and protected in accordance with their God-given dignity.

Bishop Mario E. Dorsonville, auxiliary bishop of Washington and chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Migration, issued the following statement:

“We welcome the final resolution of this case. At the same time, the Court’s decision should not be seen as a legal vindication of MPP, which remains contrary to our laws and morals. Going forward, we must work as a nation to welcome the newcomer and respond to those in need with Christ-like compassion. This includes ending the misuse of Title 42 to turn away vulnerable asylum seekers, addressing the root causes of migration, and reforming our bogged-down immigration system. It is possible to do these things while respecting the rule of law; we need only commit ourselves to the task.”