The Supreme Court on Wednesday agreed to a request by the Biden administration to remove two immigration-related cases from its upcoming calendar because they were no longer necessary due to policy changes by the new administration.
In a brief order, the high court agreed to the request to remove the cases from its upcoming oral argument calendar.
“The motions to hold further briefing in abeyance and to remove the cases from the February 2021 argument calendar are granted,” the order said.
The first case, Biden v. Sierra Club, concerns the construction of the wall at the southern border and whether the Trump administration had the authority to transfer $2.5 billion in military funds to fund the project on the basis of a “national emergency” declaration.
Approximately 450 miles of wall was constructed under President Donald Trump, with about another 350 additional miles funded.
But Biden, who promised to stop the wall if elected, last week halted construction of the wall so there could be assessments of the legality of the funding, contracting methods as well as the consequences of stopping the projects.
The second case taken off the calendar by the court — Pekoske (Wolf) v. Innovation Law Lab — involved the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). The policy, known as the Remain-in-Mexico policy, sends migrants back to Mexico while they await their immigration hearings rather than them being released into the U.S.
Critics called the policy cruel and inhumane, while the Trump administration argued that it was vital in ending “catch and release” and removing the pull factors that bring migrants to the U.S. More than 60,000 migrants had been returned under the policy.
The administration had appealed lower court rulings invalidating the policy. But Biden had promised to end MPP and on Tuesday signed an order ordering a review of the program and for DHS to determine whether the policy should be modified or terminated.
National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan had indicated the administration still wishes to ultimately end the program but has warned that it will “take time.”
“MPP has been a disaster from the start and has led to a humanitarian crisis in northern Mexico. But putting the new policy into practice will take time,” he said in December. “The current administration dismantled much of the necessary capacity to ensure the safe and orderly processing of migrants. We need time to increase processing capacity and to do so consistent with public health requirements.”
The withdrawal of the cases is the latest move by the Biden administration to move quickly away from Trump-era policies on immigration. On Tuesday, Biden signed orders that will set up a task force to reunify families separated under his predecessor and review other Trump policies.
“I’m not making new law, I’m eliminating bad policy,” Biden said from the Oval Office. “What I’m doing is taking on the issues that, 99% of them, that the last president of the United States issued executive orders I thought were very counterproductive to our security, counterproductive to who we are as a country, particularly in the area of immigration.”
He has also ended Trump-era travel bans and sought to strengthen the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program that Trump sought to end — but was rebuffed by the Supreme Court.