Supreme Court declines to reverse lower court’s block on Biden’s DHS non-deportation policy, but agrees to take case

A key feature of President Joe Biden’s tenure is his incessant effort to try and counter or reverse virtually all policies put in place by his predecessor, former President Donald Trump, especially with regard to border security and the enforcement of immigration laws.

One such effort was a policy that dramatically reduced which illegal migrants were prioritized for deportation, but the Supreme Court just denied a request from the Biden administration to lift a block on that policy put in place by a district court, Fox News reported.

The high court did, however, agree to take up the administration’s appeal of that lower court’s decision and set a date in November to hear oral arguments in the case.

DHS policy on deportation prioritization challenged

At issue here is a Sept. 2021 memo issued by Homeland Security Sec. Alejandro Mayorkas that essentially established a new policy for DHS to prioritize deportation for only three general classes of illegal migrants — those who are suspected terrorists, those who posed a threat to public safety, and those who had been immediately apprehended at the border — and effectively deprioritized, if not outright prohibited, the deportation of any other illegal migrants in the country.

According to SCOTUSblog, Texas and Louisiana had filed a lawsuit against that new policy and a federal district judge in Texas agreed to vacate the policy and prevent it from going into effect, a decision that the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to address when asked to do so by the Biden administration.

Separately, a collection of other states also challenged the DHS policy, and a federal district judge in Ohio similarly blocked it from implementation, though the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals chose to overrule that lower court and determined that the policy could go into effect.

Given the current disagreement in opinions at the circuit court level, the issue has now been taken up by the Supreme Court to settle the dispute over the challenged DHS policy.

No stay on the lower court’s ruling, but the case will be heard soon

In an unsigned one-page order released on Thursday, a 5-4 majority of the court decided to deny the administration’s request to reverse the lower Texas court’s ruling against the DHS policy.

The four who would have granted the request included the three liberals on the court, Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagen, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, along with Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

However, the high court did agree to eventually hear arguments in the case in the next term and laid out three main questions for the states and administration to focus on: Whether the states had the standing to challenge the DHS policy; whether the policy violated certain immigration statutes and the Administrative Procedure Act; and whether the Texas judge had appropriate authority and jurisdiction to vacate the policy in the first place.

A win for Trump, though perhaps only temporary

As noted, that case will be heard in November and it is not outside the realm of possibility that a majority of the Supreme Court could ultimately decide that the Biden administration does have the authority and prosecutorial discretion to prioritize certain classes of illegal migrants for deportation above all others.

That said, at least as of now, that disputed DHS policy remains effectively blocked by the courts and, though potentially temporary, nonetheless signifies a win for former President Trump and his policy of strict enforcement of existing immigration laws that, with few exceptions, allowed for the deportation of any and all illegal migrants found within the United States.

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