Court slaps down Joe Biden’s 100-day deportation pause

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A federal court in Texas issued an injunction early Wednesday against President Biden’s 100-day deportation pause, saying the Inauguration Day decision was too rash and the new administration has failed to justify why it’s needed.

Judge Drew B. Tipton, a Trump appointee, said the law specifically requires the government to try to quickly deport illegal immigrants in its custody who have been ordered removed. He said the Biden team’s justifications for thwarting that — worries about the coronavirus and plans for a broader review of immigration policy — don’t justify ignoring the law.

“What this preliminary injunction does is bar DHS from unlawfully enacting a blanket 100-day pause which is contrary to law,” he wrote.

He ruled the pause a violation of the Administrative Procedures Act, a law that requires agencies to go through a process before making major policy changes. The same law repeatedly tripped up the Trump administration on immigration matters, too.

Judge Tipton had earlier issued a temporary restraining order to put the deportation pause on hold for several weeks while he could hear more arguments.

Wednesday morning’s ruling, a preliminary injunction, will now last until a much more fulsome court case can develop, or unless a higher court steps in and overturns the injunction. Given the pause is only scheduled for 100 days, it’s also likely the matter would become moot soon.

Homeland Security announced the pause on Jan. 20, just hours after Mr. Biden was sworn in and issued directives to start unwinding the Trump administration’s stiff immigration enforcement policies.

The pause applied to almost all illegal immigrants, but did still allow for deportations of serious security or safety risks and for illegal immigrants who arrived Nov. 1 and later.

Judge Tipton said that last part also hurt the Biden team’s case, because it’s not clear why deporting illegal immigrants who jumped the border in the last few months, but not those who arrived in October or before, was specifically connected to coronavirus considerations.

He also said the government couldn’t even say who wrote the memo creating the pause, and the fact that it was issued just hours after the change of power “did not leave much time for reflection and analysis.”

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton had sued almost immediately after the immigration pause was announced, saying his state would be hurt by the pause.

Judge Tipton found enough of an injury to Texas to give the state standing to sue.

Immigrant-rights groups blasted the new injunction.

“This ruling is legally wrong and will seriously harm families and communities around the country,” said Cody Wofsy, a lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, which had intervened in the lawsuit.

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