Trump-appointed judge overturns Biden 100 day ban on deportations

Mr Biden pitched 100-day pause during campaign as part of rollback of Trump immigration policies

Gustaf Kilander
Washington, DC
Wednesday 24 February 2021 17:10
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A Trump-appointed federal judge has indefinitely blocked President Joe Biden’s 100-day moratorium on most deportations. This means that the administration is banned from enforcing the pause.

District Court Drew Tipton in Houston issued a preliminary injunction put forward by the state of Texas, preserving the status quo before a final judgement can be made.

The motion argued that the deportation-pause violated federal law and could mean further costs for Texas, CBS News reported.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit that partly argued that the moratorium violated an agreement signed between the Department of Homeland Security and the state of Texas late in former President Donald Trump’s term that required the DHS to consult with the state before changing their policies, according to CNN.

Mr Biden pitched the pause during the campaign in a bid to review the workings of the immigration enforcement system and to roll back some of the moves made by Mr Trump.

An immigration bill pushed by the White House would provide a pathway to citizenship for an estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants currently in the United States. Guidelines issued by Mr Biden has also updated who immigration enforcement targets in their work with border agents.

Mr Tipton entered his post in June 2020 and initially ruled on 26 January, six days after the start of the Biden presidency, that the moratorium broke the law on administrative procedure and that the government hadn’t properly shown why the pause on deportations was merited.

The Administrative Procedure Act of 1946 defines how federal agencies develop and puts forward new regulations and guidelines.

The temporary restraining order issued by Mr Tipton was going to expire Tuesday. The Tipton ruling does not require that deportations restart at their previous speed. Agencies in charge of immigration enforcement have the power to dictate how they enforce removals and at what pace they process cases.

Even so, following the ruling of Mr Tipton, hundreds of immigrants were deported to Central America and 15 people to Jamaica. The expulsion of immigrants has also continued under another process started by the Trump administration and carried on with Mr Biden in the White House. This process used public health law during the Covid-19 pandemic as its underlying justification for the expulsions.

Staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project Cody Wofsy said in a statement: “This ruling is legally wrong and will seriously harm families and communities around the country. 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.”

Texas ACLU lawyer Kate Huddleston added: “Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton continues to perpetuate harms against our immigrant communities and to seek to force the Biden administration to follow the xenophobic policies of former President Trump. Allowing these deportations to continue means that families will be torn apart and that people who have the opportunity to seek relief in the United States will be returned to danger.”

Mr Tipton wrote in his 105-page ruling that the government did “not cite, and the Court cannot find, other instances in which any government agency paused its essential duties and tasks for 100 days to reassess its priorities”.

The Independent has reached out to the White House for comment.

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