Defense & National Security — High court sides with Biden over ‘Remain in Mexico’

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The Supreme Court on Thursday sided with the Biden administration in its effort to end the Trump-era “Remain in Mexico” immigration policy.

We’ll talk about the ruling. Plus, we’ll examine U.S. preparations to send $800 million in more security aid to Ukraine.

This is Defense & National Security, your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond. For The Hill, I’m Jordan Williams. Subscribe here.

Supreme Court gives Biden a win

The Supreme Court on Thursday sided with the Biden administration in its effort to end a Trump-era immigration policy that requires U.S. asylum-seekers at the southern border to wait in Mexico while their applications are processed.

  • The 5-4 ruling found that the administration did not violate federal immigration law when it sought to rescind the policy.

  • While the justices returned the case to lower courts for additional proceedings, an October rescission by the Department of Homeland security notes it will take effect “as soon as practicable” following a decision from the court.

What the Justices said: The law “plainly confers a discretionary authority to return aliens to Mexico during the pendency of their immigration proceedings,” Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

“The use of the word ‘may’… thus makes clear that contiguous-territory return is a tool that the Secretary ‘has the authority, but not the duty,’ to use,” he wrote.

What was ‘Remain in Mexico?’ Under former President Trump’s 2019 policy, more than 70,000 asylum-seekers were returned from the U.S. to Mexico.

  • The program, formally called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), marked an extreme departure from the previous practice of allowing those fleeing violence and persecution to cross the border and remain in the U.S. while they apply for asylum, a process that can take years to complete.

  • Immigration advocates had long pleaded with both Trump and Biden to scrap the policy, noting that vulnerable migrants, who are not from Mexico and may not even be Spanish speakers, faced dangerous conditions as they waited months on end for any movement in their cases.

Another obstacle: But even as the Biden administration ends MPP, the decision may change little at the border.

Even though it has now rescinded Title 42, courts have ruled that policy must stay in place, leaving another policy that allows for the rapid expulsion of migrants — this one blocking them wholesale from the asylum system.

Read the full story here.

Biden tees up $800M more security aid for Ukraine

President Biden said Thursday that the U.S. plans to send an additional $800 million in security assistance to Ukraine, including advanced air defense systems and other “offensive” weapons.

Biden disclosed the plans during a news conference following a NATO summit in Madrid, where he declared the alliance united in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine.

What’s in the package? Biden said the new assistance package would also include more counter-battery radars, artillery and ammunition, including ammunition for High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) that the U.S. has recently supplied to the Ukrainians. Biden also predicted that other countries would send HIMARS to Ukraine.

White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said earlier this week that the U.S. would be sending medium- and long-range air defense systems to Ukraine, though he declined to specify the particular system.

‘As long as it takes:’ Asked Thursday whether Americans should be prepared for the U.S. to support Ukraine indefinitely, Biden answered: “We are going to support Ukraine as it takes.”

“As long as it takes to in fact make sure that they are not defeated by … Russia,” Biden said.

‘What else Biden said: On Thursday, Biden took a victory lap of sorts following the summit, saying he told Russian President Vladimir Putin before he launched a military invasion of Ukraine that doing so would strengthen NATO.

Biden also underscored the U.S. plans to enhance its forces in Europe and commitments by other NATO members, like Germany, to bolster defense spending to meet the alliance’s target of 2 percent of gross domestic product.

President backs F-16 sale to Turkey

President Biden on Thursday publicly backed the sale of upgraded F-16 fighter jets to Turkey and expressed optimism that Congress would approve the weapons sale.

  • Biden told reporters at a press conference following a NATO summit in Madrid that he expressed support for selling F-16s to Turkey during a one-on-one meeting with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan a day prior.

  • At the same time, Biden dismissed the idea that agreeing to sell Turkey the fighter jets would represent a “quid pro quo” after Ankara agreed to relent on its objections to Finland and Sweden joining NATO. 

“I said back in December, as you’ll recall, we should sell them the F-16 jets and modernize those jets as well,” Biden told reporters. “It’s not in our interest not to do that and I indicated to them that I had not changed my position at all since December.”

“There was no quid pro quo with that. It’s just, we should sell,” Biden continued. “I need congressional approval to be able to do that, and I think we can get that.”

Read the full story here.


  • The Royal United Services Institute will host an event on “The War in Ukraine and Taiwan’s Defensive Planning” at 6 a.m. ET

  • The American Security Project will host a “Rapid Response Briefing— Unpacking the 2022 NATO Summit” at 10 a.m.

  • The Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe will host the Black Sea Security Summit at 1 p.m.


That’s it for today. Check out The Hill’s Defense and National Security pages for the latest coverage. See you tomorrow!


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