Joe Biden's move to reverse Trump policies takes a hit as federal judge blocks his 100-day deportation freeze

US District Judge Drew Tipton, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, issued an injunction sought by Texas which said the moratorium violated federal law

Joe Biden's move to reverse Trump policies takes a hit as federal judge blocks his 100-day deportation freeze
Joe Biden proposed the moratorium during his presidential campaign as part of a bigger review of immigration enforcement (Getty Images)
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A federal judge on Tuesday, February 23, banned the Joe Biden administration from enforcing a 100-day moratorium on most deportations, indefinitely. US District Judge Drew Tipton, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump, issued a preliminary injunction sought by the state of Texas, which alleged the moratorium violated federal law and risked putting an additional financial burden on the state. 

Biden proposed the moratorium during his presidential campaign as part of a bigger review of immigration enforcement and an attempt to reverse the priorities of his predecessor, Associated Press reported. He also proposed a sweeping immigration bill that would legalize an estimated 11 million people residing illegally in the US. On January 26, six days after Biden took over, Tipton initially ruled that the moratorium was against the federal law on administrative procedure and that the country failed to show why a pause on deportation was justified. A temporary restraining order that he issued was set to expire on Tuesday, AP added

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However, immigration agencies have wide latitude in enforcing removals and processing cases even without a moratorium, the report added. “Tipton’s ruling did not require deportations to resume at their previous pace. Even without a moratorium, immigration agencies have wide latitude in enforcing removals and processing cases. But in the days that followed his ruling, authorities deported 15 people to Jamaica and hundreds of others to Central America. The Biden administration has also continued expelling immigrants under a separate process begun by Trump officials, who invoked public-health law due to the coronavirus pandemic,” the AP report said. 

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Undocumented immigrants await deportation by Border Patrol agents at the US-Mexico border in Hidalgo, Texas. (Getty Images)

On Tuesday, Tipton said the arguments presented by Texas that they would have to bear a financial burden by having to detain immigrants who otherwise would have been deported and an increase in the number of unaccompanied minors needing public education were valid. 

“The Court finds Texas has established by a preponderance of the evidence that it could reasonably expect a 100-day pause to lead to a significant number of criminal aliens and unaccompanied children moving freely within and into Texas who would otherwise be removed,” the judge said in the 105-page decision.

“The 100-day pause will lead to a significant number of criminal aliens moving freely within and into Texas who otherwise would have been removed. Criminal aliens and state offenders have a demonstrable propensity to recidivate. Therefore, the 100-day pause will cause Texas unanticipated detention facility costs,” he added.

Tipton came up with a general opposition to nationwide injunctions but pointed out precedent in other instances. He subsequently issued an injunction of the deportation pause nationwide. The stay of the pause will be in place pending a final resolution of the case or till further order from a federal court, like an appeals court, the far-right Epoch Times reported. It also said Tipton had twice blocked the order for two weeks at a time before making a new decision. 

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David Pekoske (Getty Images)

On January 20, former acting homeland security secretary David Pekoske said in a memorandum “an immediate pause on removals of any noncitizen with a final order of removal … for 100 days.” Texas sued soon after alleging the pause breached an agreement between the state and the federal government made during the former Trump administration and that the homeland security department has a responsibility to promote the removal of illegal aliens.

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'A fair and effective enforcement system'

Also last month, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told the media that the pause “will allow the administration to review and reset enforcement policies and ensure that resources are dedicated to the most pressing challenges, and that we have a fair and effective enforcement system rooted in responsibly managing the border and protecting our national security and public safety.”

According to the government, nearly 6,000 noncitizens subject to a final removal order are being detained nationwide at the moment and it alleged only a few of them would be released from custody till the pause was in effect. Defendants of the pause had urged the judge not to issue the injunction and wrote in a filing earlier this month that Pekoske’s memo didn’t violate federal law and Texas’s position lacked credibility. 

“Texas has failed to show it will be harmed by the temporary removal pause at all, let alone irreparably, as is required for injunctive relief,” government lawyers said, adding: “Multiple statutory provisions expressly preclude review in district court, and over the substantive and procedural issues raised here.”

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It was not immediately clear if the Biden administration would appeal Tipton’s latest ruling, AP said, adding the justice department did not seek a stay of Tipton’s temporary restraining order issued earlier.

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