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Federal Judge Delivers Another Blow To Biden’s Immigration Agenda

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OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion


A federal judge extended the temporary suspension of President Joe Biden’s 100-day moratorium on deportations.

“The Court may ultimately be persuaded by the Defendants’ arguments, but any harm they might incur between now and then does not outweigh the potential for irreparable harm to Texas,” U.S. District Court Judge Drew Tipton in the Southern District of Texas wrote Tuesday.

The administration “argued that the 100-day pause on removals is necessary to allow” them to look into “important immigration, foreign policy, and humanitarian considerations,” the order stated.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton brought a lawsuit against the Biden administration last month after the president announced a 100-day halt to deportations.

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“I told [the Department of Homeland Security] and [Biden] last night to rescind its deportation freeze, which is unconstitutional, illegal, and bad for Texas and the nation,” Paxton said of the lawsuit at the time. “They didn’t budge.”

“A higher number of illegal aliens in Texas leads to budgetary harms, including higher education and healthcare costs,” the lawsuit said.

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Tipton’s order is an early blow to the Biden administration, which has proposed far-reaching changes sought by immigration advocates, including a plan to legalize an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the U.S. illegally.

Biden promised during his campaign to pause most deportations for 100 days.

The order represents a victory for Texas’ Republican leaders, who often sued to stop programs enacted by Biden’s Democratic predecessor, President Barack Obama.

It also showed that just as Democratic-led states and immigration groups fought former President Donald Trump over immigration in court, often successfully, so too will Republicans with Biden in office.

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David Pekoske, the acting Homeland Security secretary, signed a memo on Biden’s first day directing immigration authorities to focus on national security and public safety threats as well as anyone apprehended entering the U.S. illegally after Nov. 1.

That was a reversal from Trump administration policy that made anyone in the U.S. illegally a priority for deportation.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argued that the moratorium violated federal law as well as an agreement Texas signed with the Department of Homeland Security late in the Trump administration.

That agreement required Homeland Security to consult with Texas and other states before taking any action to “reduce, redirect, reprioritize, relax, or in any way modify immigration enforcement.”

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The Biden administration argued in court filings that the agreement is unenforceable because “an outgoing administration cannot contract away that power for an incoming administration.”

Paxton’s office, meanwhile, submitted evidence that “refusal to remove illegal aliens is directly leading to the immediate release of additional illegal aliens in Texas.”

Tipton wrote that his order was not based on the agreement between Texas and the Trump administration, but federal law to preserve the “status quo” before the DHS moratorium.

“The Biden moratorium covers most deportations but excludes individuals who came to the U.S. after November 1, are suspected of terrorism or espionage or pose a danger to national security, have waived rights to remain in the U.S., or who’ve been determined removable by the acting director, according to an agency memo,” Paxton added.

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