A Texas judge Friday overturned the Biden administration policy limiting which illegal aliens may be arrested and deported by federal agents.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers were told to focus on three groups of illegal aliens: recent border crossers and those who pose threats to national security or public safety. Agents were further directed to consider factors like military service before arresting or deporting aliens.
“We have fundamentally changed immigration enforcement in the interior,” Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas declared in a January 20 CBS News interview. “For the first time ever, our policy explicitly states that a non-citizen’s unlawful presence in the United States will not, by itself, be a basis for the initiation of an enforcement action.
“This is a profound shift away from the prior administration’s indiscriminate enforcement.”
Texas and Louisiana sued the federal government, claiming the president’s new policy violated federal Immigration and Nationality Act that required detaining aliens with serious criminal convictions or final deportation orders. Texas Judge Drew Tipton agreed and ordered the Biden administration to revert back to the previously existing law. The decision was stayed by the judge for one week to allow the president time to appeal his ruling.
The judge argued the government’s new immigration guidance contravened federal law that requires detention in certain situations. The government “offers an implausible construction of federal law that flies in the face of the limitations imposed by Congress,” opined Tipton.
“True, the Executive Branch has case-by-case discretion to abandon immigration enforcement as to a particular individual,” he explained. “This case, however, does not involve individualized decision making. This case is about a rule that binds Department of Homeland Security officials in a generalized, prospective manner—all in contravention of Congress’s detention mandate.”
The Texas district judge further argued the new regulations were more that just the guidance claimed by the administration. It “provides a new basis on which aliens may avoid being subject to the enforcement of immigration law,” Tipton declared, adding that makes it a rule subject to the Administrative Procedures Act. The APA requires certain conditions like a notice-and-comment period before rules may be implemented.
Alleged failure to adhere to the APA was the justification cited by the U.S. Supreme Court when it ruled against former President Donald Trump’s revocation of DACA.
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