In the first court challenge to the Biden administration’s immigration program, a Texas federal judge temporarily blocked a 100-day break on deportations.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on Tuesday issued a 14-day nationwide temporary restraining order sought by the state attorney general that would prevent the policy from being enforced, which was issued by Department of Homeland Security within hours of President Biden’s inauguration. The order will remain in effect until the judge has considered a broader motion for a preliminary injunction.
Judge Drew B. Tipton, who was appointed by former President Donald J. Trump, said in his ruling that the stay of deportations would violate an immigration status provision as well as another law that required agencies to provide a rational explanation for their political decisions.
Immigration law states that people who have received a final deportation order from the United States must be deported within 90 days. The court concluded that the 100-day break violated this requirement and that the mandatory language of immigration law should not be “neutralized by the broad discretion of the federal government.”
The court also ruled that the agency’s memorandum violated a separate law that required agencies to provide a logical and rational reason for their policy changes. The judge ruled that the Homeland Security Department violated the Administrative Procedure Act because it failed to provide adequate justification for the temporary suspension of the evictions.
Immediately after taking office, Mr. Biden began to dismantle some of his predecessor’s initiatives aimed at curbing legal and illegal immigration to the United States. The president issued a series of decrees, including one to repeal a travel ban that targeted Muslim-majority countries.
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Immigration advocates have challenged many of Mr. Trump’s policies in Federal Court, and Judge Tipton’s ruling on Tuesday indicated that immigration hawks could also take legal action to thwart Mr. Biden’s initiatives.
“The court order shows President Biden’s uphill battle in trying to reverse the previous administration’s immigration restrictions,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, immigration lawyer and professor at the Cornell Law School. “A single judge can halt a federal agency’s efforts to review and re-prioritize its immigration law enforcement policies.”
After Tuesday’s ruling, Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas said on twitter that it was a victory against the left.
“Texas is the FIRST state in the country to take legal action against Administrator Biden. AND WE WON, ”wrote Mr. Paxton, a Republican, who is under federal investigation on charges of corruption and abuse of power raised by former collaborators.
“Within 6 days of Biden’s inauguration, Texas STOPPED its freeze on illegal evictions,” Paxton wrote. “It was a seditious left-wing insurrection. And my team and I stopped it.
In one letter Last week to David Pekoske, Acting Homeland Security Secretary Paxton called the plan “a complete abdication of the Homeland Security Department’s obligation to enforce federal immigration law” which “Would cause serious and irreparable harm to the State of Texas and its citizens. . “
Thousands of immigrants in detention centers have deportation orders that can be executed after they exhaust their legal remedies. Thousands more who live inside the country could be arrested because they have pending deportation orders.
The Biden administration said the break was meant to allow time for an internal review. The moratorium would cover most immigrants who were at risk of deportation, unless they arrived in the United States after November 1, 2020, believed to have committed acts of terrorism or espionage , or that they pose a threat to national security.
“We are confident that as the case progresses it will be clear that this measure was entirely appropriate to order a temporary hiatus to allow the agency to carefully review its policies, procedures and enforcement priorities – while allowing a greater focus on threats to public safety and national security, ”a White House spokesperson said Tuesday. “President Biden remains committed to taking immediate action to reform our immigration system to ensure it upholds American values while ensuring the safety of our communities.