The Supreme Court refused to reinstate a Biden administration immigration policy that restricted the detention of some illegal immigrants.
The court on Thursday decided 5-4 to leave in place a Texas district judge’s order halting the restrictions until the Supreme Court weighs the case in December.
All the male justices — Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh — refused the Biden administration’s request to stay the lower court’s order.
The court’s female justices — Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Amy Coney Barrett and Ketanji Brown Jackson — voted to grant the Biden administration its request.
At the center of the dispute is a September memo from Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.
In the memo, Mayorkas instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement that a person being an illegal immigrant “should not alone be the basis” on which he or she is detained.
Citing the fact that the U.S. lacks the resources to arrest and remove the over 11 million illegal aliens in the country, Mayorkas wrote that Homeland Security must “use our discretion and focus our enforcement resources in a more targeted way.”
“Enforcement action” must be taken primarily against those posing a threat to national security, public safety and border security, the memorandum stated.
Mayorkas also instructed immigration agencies to consider other mitigating factors such as age, mental condition and the impact of removal on family members when deciding on enforcement action.
Republican attorneys general in different parts of the country sued the Biden administration over the memo, with the successful lawsuits being from Texas and Louisiana, according to The Washington Post.
The lawsuits alleged that the Biden administration’s policies would impose the burden of taking care of illegal immigrants’ education, health care and other social services on the states they reside in, the Post reported.
They also said the Biden administration’s policies were a violation of federal laws mandating that ICE detain and deport immigrants for carrying out serious crimes.
Judge Drew Tipton in Texas vacated the Biden administration’s policy. The administration’s subsequent appeals to stay the order were denied.
When dealing with similar cases in Arizona, Montana and Ohio, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit ruled in favor of the Biden administration, according to the Post. In his ruling, Chief Judge Jeffrey Sutton wrote that Mayorkas’ memorandum “does not tie the hands of immigration officers.”
The Texas court’s opinion is “thwarting the Secretary’s direction of the Department he leads and disrupting DHS’s efforts to focus its limited resources on the noncitizens who pose the gravest threat to national security, public safety, and the integrity of our Nation’s borders,” solicitor general Elizabeth Prelogar wrote in court papers, according to CNN.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry had asked the Supreme Court not to involve itself in the legal dispute, saying it was within the states’ rights to bring the case against the Biden administration because the DHS memorandum would raise costs for the states and increase the amount of criminal illegal aliens within their borders.
“Through the Immigration and Nationality Act, Congress has directed the Executive — in mandatory language — to detain specific criminal aliens,” Paxton said.
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