The Supreme Court will consider Tuesday the Biden administration’s effort to revive a policy that prioritizes immigration enforcement by focusing on threats to public safety.
The administration is seeking to overturn a June ruling by a Texas-based federal judge that blocked the policy nationwide. It had been in effect for less than a year.
Announced in September 2021, President Joe Biden’s plan marked a departure from the hardline enforcement approach taken by former President Donald Trump. The administration argued that with an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US, the government has to prioritize certain cases because it does not have the resources to detain and deport all of them.
Texas and Louisiana immediately challenged the plan in court, arguing that federal immigration law requires that certain illegal immigrants, including those convicted of felonies, human trafficking and some weapons offenses, must be detained after being released from prison. criminal custody. Biden’s policy, which required an individual assessment of whether an immigrant is a threat to public safety or national security while the government begins removal proceedings, would challenge that requirement, the states say.
Lawyers for the Biden administration argue that the president has broad discretion to set enforcement priorities.
The judges will consider whether the states had legal standing to bring the challenge and, if so, whether the guidelines are illegal. A third question concerns whether the judge had the authority to block the policy even if it is illegal.
In the ruling blocking the policy, Trump-appointed U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton said Texas had standing because it could show that immigrants who should have been detained were in Texas and in some cases had committed crimes.
Tipton discovered that the policy was illegal and that the government did not follow the correct procedure to implement it.
Attorney General Elizabeth Prelogar, representing the administration, said in court documents that Tipton’s decision to reduce the discretion of federal officials to set enforcement priorities «goes against a longstanding practice that spans multiple administrations.»
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton responded on behalf of the states that when Congress sets requirements, the president «lacks the authority to ignore that instruction.»
The Supreme Court voted 5-4 in July to reject the Biden administration’s request to immediately restore the policy, but agreed to hear oral arguments. The ruling is due at the end of June.
Republicans have frequently accused Biden of a lax approach to law enforcement and border security, which they argue has led to a rise in crime and an increase in the number of people entering illegally. to the United States.