In the first legal challenge to the Biden administration’s immigration agenda, a federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked a 100-day deportation break.
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on Tuesday issued a 14-day statewide injunction pending by the Attorney General to prevent enforcement of the policy issued by the Department of Homeland Security within hours of President Biden’s inauguration . The order remains in effect until the judge has considered a more comprehensive application for an injunction.
Judge Drew B. Tipton, appointed by former President Donald J. Trump, said in his ruling that the suspension of deportations would violate a provision of immigration law, as well as another law that requires authorities to make a rational statement their political decisions.
Immigration law requires people with definitive deportation orders to be deported from the United States within 90 days. The court ruled that the 100-day break violated this requirement and that the mandatory language of the immigration law should not be “neutered 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 found that the Department of Homeland Security had violated the Administrative Procedure Act by failing to provide adequate justification for the temporary suspension of deportations.
Immediately after taking office, Mr. Biden began dismantling some of his predecessor’s initiatives to curb both legal and illegal immigration to the United States. The president has issued a number of executive orders, including one to lift travel bans for Muslim-majority countries.
Immigration advocates challenged many of Mr Trump’s policies in federal court, and Judge Tipton’s decision on Tuesday signaled that immigrant hawks may also sue to obstruct Mr Biden’s initiatives.
“The court order shows President Biden’s tough battle trying to lift the previous administration’s immigration restrictions,” said Stephen Yale-Loehr, an immigration attorney and professor at Cornell Law School. “A single judge can stop a federal agency’s efforts to review and re-prioritize its immigration enforcement policy.”
According to the decision on Tuesday, Attorney General Ken Paxton of Texas said on twitter that it was a victory against the left.
“Texas is the FIRST state in the nation to file a lawsuit against the Biden Admin. AND WE WON, ”wrote Republican Paxton, who is under federal investigation for bribery and abuse of power charges by former aides.
“Within 6 days of Biden’s inauguration, Texas prevented its illegal deportation freeze,” Paxton wrote. “This was a seditious left wing uprising. And my team and I stopped doing that. “
In one letter Last week, Paxton described David Pekoske, acting secretary for Homeland Security, as “a total waiver of the Department of Homeland Security’s obligation to enforce federal immigration law” that would “seriously and irreparably harm the state of Texas and its citizens.” ”
Thousands of immigrants in detention centers have deportation orders that can be carried out once they have exhausted their remedies. Thousands more inland could be arrested for having pending deportation orders.
The Biden administration said the break should allow time for an internal review. The moratorium would cover most immigrants facing deportation unless they arrived in the United States after November 1, 2020, were suspected of having committed acts of terrorism or espionage, or posed a threat to the national Security.
“We are confident that as the process progresses, it will be clear that this was a reasonable move to order a temporary pause so the agency can carefully review its policies, procedures and enforcement priorities – while focusing more on public threats Security and national security, “a White House spokesman said Tuesday. “President Biden remains determined to take immediate action to reform our immigration system to ensure that American values are upheld while our communities are protected.”