Texas judge deals Biden another blow on 100-day deportation ban
A federal judge in Texas on Tuesday blocked President Joe Biden’s 100-day moratorium on most deportations, the latest blow to Biden on one of his signature campaign promises. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton, in a late-night ruling, granted a preliminary injunction that blocks the moratorium the Biden administration announced on its first day. It’s a victory for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who filed a lawsuit against the federal government over the 100-day pause, which was announced in a memorandum from the Department of Homeland Security three days into the Biden administration.
Last month, Tipton quickly issued a 14-day temporary restraining order — which he later extended an extra two weeks — to stop the moratorium from being enforced. He expressed then that the DHS memo failed to “consider potential policies more limited in scope and time” and “provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause.”
“This preliminary injunction is granted on a nationwide basis and prohibits enforcement and implementation of the [100-day pause] in every place Defendants have jurisdiction to enforce and implement the January 20 Memorandum,” Tipton, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, wrote in the 105-page ruling.
The order represents a setback to Biden’s immigration agenda, which is largely focused on undoing Trump’s immigration legacy and securing an overhaul to the U.S. immigration system.
Tipton found that Texas had proved the 100-day deportation pause would threaten the state with financial harm — and that the moratorium, as rolled out, violated administrative laws and procedures.
“[T]he core failure of DHS lies not in the brevity of the January 20 Memorandum or the corresponding administrative record, but instead in its omission of a rational explanation grounded in the facts reviewed and the factors considered,” Tipton wrote. “This failure is fatal, as this defect essentially makes DHS’s determination to institute a 100-day pause on deportations an arbitrary and capricious choice.”
The preliminary injunction applies to the entire country, not just Texas. It will remain in place as the case moves forward or until there's a new order from a higher court.
Cody Wofsy, a staff attorney with the ACLU’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, said the civil liberties group was reviewing its options.
“This ruling is legally wrong and will seriously harm families and communities around the country,” Wofsy said. “Texas’ suit is an attempt to deprive the Biden administration of a meaningful opportunity to review and assess immigration enforcement after years of living under lawless Trump policies.”
The ruling was not without a bright spot for Biden. Tipton did not block the entire DHS memo, explicitly saying in his ruling that: “This Order does not prohibit the Government from carrying out or adhering to the January 20 Memorandum’s other sections,” including a DHS-wide review of policies and practices tied to immigration enforcement and interim civil enforcement guidelines.
Last week, the Biden administration issued new enforcement guidance that would require U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement to focus on immigrants who pose a national security, border security or public safety risk — a major shift away from the Trump administration’s more aggressive enforcement approach. It is expected to result in a drop in deportations and other enforcement actions.
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