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“The Anti-Immigrant Judicial Pipeline Is Gushing And There’s Only One Way to Stop It”

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In a deep dive Medium post, David Leopold, legal advisor to America’s Voice, Chair of Immigration at Ulmer & Berne and former President of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, describes the Supreme Court’s decision to require the administration to restart implementation of the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy and the dangerous legal territory we have now entered. Leopold hones in on the anti-immigrant judicial “pipeline” that ultimately led to this disastrous decision and calls for the prioritization of federal district and circuit court nominations and to expand the Supreme Court.

Below, find excerpts of the piece, which is online at Medium here.

The American judicial system has become an anti-immigrant judicial pipeline — and it’s on full display, and it’s dangerous. The pipeline flows from Republican Attorneys General to hand-picked United States District Court Judges (usually Trump appointees in Texas), to the conservative Fifth Circuit and finally, to the United States Supreme Court. 

The latest egregious example involved Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP), commonly known as the “Remain in Mexico” policy–a Trump-era program that forces asylum seekers to wait for a possible indefinite period of time on the Mexican side of the southern border while their cases are backlogged in U.S. immigration courts–that the Biden administration sought to end on his first day in office.

…What happened was a political bait-and-switch masked as an interim Supreme Court ruling. While Trump was in the White House the conservative justices regularly upheld his administration on immigration policies – but showed their hand on this one. Legal observers were aghast. Slate’s Mark Joseph Stern tweeted, “Absolute insanity. SCOTUS’ conservative majority repeatedly cleared away lower court injunctions so that Trump could implement his immigration agenda. Now it lets a single district court judge dictate foreign policy for the Biden administration. This is beyond outrageous.” 

…These cases aren’t the first time hard-core conservative Attorneys General launched lawsuits in Texas with friendly judges – and it won’t be the last. Here’s how the anti-immigrant judicial pipeline works:

  • The Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, is usually at the center of initiating these cases often with his fellow GOP AGs;
  • They hand-select a right-wing federal judge in Texas, often a Trump appointees with Federalist Society ties;
  • Those judges side with the GOP AGs leading to an appeal to the conservative Fifth Circuit;
  • From there, it’s up to the now very conservative Supreme Court. And, now we know the Supreme Court is firmly on board. 

Unless the White House and Democrats on Capitol Hill institute changes into the federal judiciary, this is our future on immigration and other progressive issues.