President Joe Biden entered office with a clear plan to implement relaxed border security and immigration policies, thus creating what some critics have called a “sanctuary country” for many undocumented immigrants.
In response, the states of Texas and Louisiana sued the Biden administration over Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s nonenforcement policy — and a federal judge this week issued a nationwide injunction blocking the policy as unlawful.
Background on the case
According to Breitbart, the judge also imposed several unique requirements on ICE in order to ensure compliance with the order.
At issue in the case was a memo sent by Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson in February that stemmed from a similar memo sent the previous month by his predecessor. That initial memo was itself an offshoot of an executive order Biden signed on his first day in office.
Among other things, the memo established a new set of priorities for the detainment and removal of undocumented immigrants, effectively limiting such outcomes to those who posed a national security risk, had been apprehended at the border, or posed a risk to “public safety.”
For example, immigrants who were previously convicted of an aggravated felony or were active members of a criminal organization would still be eligible for deportation.
All other immigrants, however, would require preapproval before officials could detain or remove them from the country.
Tipton hands down lengthy ruling
In his 160-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton determined that the ICE policy violated two specific immigration statutes as well as the Administrative Procedures Act.
“Put simply, the Government has instructed federal officials that ‘shall detain’ certain aliens means ‘may detain’ when it unambiguously means must detain,” Tipton wrote. “Thus, the Court inquires whether the Executive Branch may direct officials to enforce a law enacted by Congress in a way that is contrary to the plain language of the law.”
In his ruling, the judge concluded that “it may not,” asserting that the “Executive Branch may not instruct its officers to enforce a statute in a manner contradictory to the law itself.”
Tipton included a nationwide injunction against the ICE prioritization policy that would remain in effect until the “final resolution of the merits” of the case or forthcoming court orders. He also ordered ICE to provide the court with monthly reports on the number of aliens who had been released from state or local custody but were not detained by the agency — as well as detailed reasons why they were not detained.
The Biden administration has faced widespread criticism of its immigration policy amid a continuing crisis along the U.S.-Mexico border. Fortunately for those critics, this week’s ruling seems to affirm that the courts will be keeping a watchful eye on the situation.