Hopes and concerns with Supreme Court’s review of atrocious “Remain in Mexico” policy

Over the four years of his tumultuous reign over the United States, Donald Trump and his administration have made a plethora of controversial decisions regarding Hispanic immigrants.

Among a laundry list of threats made against the Hispanic community was Trump’s 2016 proposal to build a wall spanning the entirety of the Mexican border. This was part of the anti-Hispanic and anti-immigration rhetoric which characterized Trump’s first presidential campaign. His plan failed miserably when the wall prototypes were all easily destroyed.

In 2017, he tried to terminate the DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) program created by Janet Napolitano under the Obama Administration and Department of Homeland Security. The Supreme Court thankfully rejected this attempt in May of this year. However, the Trump administration wants to try to terminate the DACA program again without creating a replacement program.

Finally, on Jan. 25, 2019, the United States Department of Homeland Security instituted a program titled “Remain in Mexico,” which was a grimly appropriate name given El Presidente’s attitude towards Hispanics and immigrants.

The program forced immigrants traveling through Mexico in search of asylum to wait in what The New York Times describes as “unsanitary tent encampments” until their immigration hearings took place. According to The Washington Post, The Department of Homeland Security even shuttled immigrants from Tucson, Texas to El Paso, Mexico later that year.

Not only were these tents immigrants stayed in exposed to any and all weather conditions, but there have been myriad reports of kidnapping, sexual assault and torture. The situation and conditions described are as ghastly as the internment camps inhabited by undocumented immigrants arrested by ICE. The reports of non-consensual hysterectomies and of children in cages separated from their parents in these internment camps speak volumes about the tents’ conditions.

It is little wonder, then, that an appeals court blocked the program in February of this year. According to the New York Times, the court claimed that the program was “at odds with both federal law and international treaties” and was causing “extreme and irreversible harm.”

In March, the Supreme Court ruled to hear an appeal, and they did not schedule a formal review of the program until this month. The program has been in place for around 21 months, and eight of those months were spent in limbo before a formal review of the “Remain in Mexico” program, among other Trump policies regarding immigration, was even announced.

Perhaps the Supreme Court officials were hesitant to make the decision to review the program because of the dangers of the pandemic. The argument is theoretically sound. Where would these people go in such a crisis-fueled time? How would they make a living when the country prohibited its citizens from going outside unless they were deemed “essential workers”? How would they protect themselves from the virus and not spread it even further?

Alas, they did nothing, which was not a particularly good idea. As mentioned previously, both the immigration internment camps and prisons and the “Remain in Mexico” program’s tents were unsafe and unsanitary. This means that millions of immigrants, both legal and undocumented, housed in any of these facilities or tents, have almost certainly been exposed to the virus. Instead of providing a way for these immigrants to be properly quarantined and safe from the virus, the Supreme Court and Department of Homeland Security have reportedly not done anything to help them.

I pray that they rescind the program and find a safe way to provide immigration hearings for those seeking asylum. We are long past the first major wave of COVID-19 cases, but the Supreme Court needs to act fast before more waves hit the U.S. during winter.

I implore Hispanic voters, as well as anyone who sympathizes with these immigrants, to vote for Biden. If Trump were to be reelected, there’s no telling what his administration and the Department of Homeland Security will inflict upon us.