Joe Biden’s administration asked the Supreme Court this Monday to remove from its calendar the presentation of the government’s arguments on the financing of the border wall and a program that forces asylum seekers to wait for their process in Mexico.
Arguments in these cases were scheduled to be heard on February 22nd and March 1st respectively, but in separate briefs Acting U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar requested their removal from the docket.
The request was filed after Biden froze on January 20th, his first day in the White House, the construction of the wall on the border with Mexico and suspended new enrollments in the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP) program, also known as “Remain in Mexico.”
Under that program, some 68,700 people have been returned to Mexico to await their U.S. court dates, according to the Prelogar document.
“The Administration has asked the Court to remove the case from its February calendar while it evaluates ‘the legality of the methods of financing and contract procurement used in the construction of the wall,'” said in a statement the environmental organization Sierra Club, which together with the Coalition of Southern Border Communities sued the initiative of the now former President Donald Trump.
The release noted that in 2019 a district court, and a year later the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, ruled as “illegal” Trump’s attempt to transfer $2.5 billion from military salaries and retirement funds to border fence construction.
The transfer of funds was covered by a national emergency that the then-president declared in February 2019 and which granted him special powers to address a problem when the country is threatened by a crisis, exigency or emergency circumstances.
Despite lower court decisions, a stay by the Supreme Court allowed Trump to continue to allocate those funds to his flagship project.
Also on January 20th, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that a day later it would stop “adding individuals to the program” pending “further review” of the MPP.
The Acting Solicitor General asked the Supreme Court on Monday to suspend briefings in this case and to hold other proceedings in abeyance “to allow for the completion of that review.”
Prelogar told the Supreme Court that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which represents the plaintiffs in the two cases, agreed with the request.