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The US Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the revival of an immigration policy that forced asylum seekers to wait in Mexico for their court dates, in a blow to President Joe Biden.
Under former president Donald Trump's "Remain in Mexico" program, tens of thousands of non-Mexican asylum seekers -- mostly from Central America -- were sent back over the border pending the outcome of their applications.
The Biden administration moved quickly to start dismantling and end the controversial policy, officially called the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP).
That move made its way through the US court system, prompting the administration to eventually ask the Supreme Court for a stay in reinstating the program.
In a brief unsigned order, however, the court said Tuesday that "the application for a stay... is denied."
According to the document, the court's three progressive judges -- Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan -- said they would have permitted suspension.
In the order, the court referenced a separate case in which it blocked Republicans in June 2020 from ending a federal program giving legal status to hundreds of thousands of immigrants, known as Dreamers.
The court had found the Republican move to cancel the program to be "arbitrary and capricious."
The Supreme Court similarly said in its order Tuesday that the Biden administration had "failed to show a likelihood of success on the claim that the memorandum rescinding the Migrant Protection Protocols was not arbitrary and capricious."
The case can now proceed at a lower level in an appeals court.
The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement that it "regrets that the Supreme Court declined to issue a stay."
It added that "as the appeal process continues, however, DHS will comply with the order in good faith."
Immigrant rights groups also protested the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) order.
"Today's SCOTUS decision forcing the reinstatement of the 'Remain in Mexico' policy is nothing short of cruel," said Yael Schacher, senior US advocate at Refugees International.
The "Biden administration must not see this decision as a mandate."