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Federal Judge Stops Biden From Imposing Limits To ICE Enforcement

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


President Joe Biden’s administration has been blocked by a federal court from imposing limitations on arrests, detentions, and removals by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Southern District of Ohio Judge Michael Newman made the decision after a lawsuit was filed by Republican Attorneys General of Arizona, Montana, and Ohio.

He issued a preliminary injunction stopping Biden from imposing the new guidelines on punishments for illegal immigration.

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“The States sue because they believe DHS skirted Congress’s immigration enforcement mandates when it issued a policy that prioritizes certain high-risk noncitizens for apprehension and removal,” the judge said. “DHS contends that seemingly mandatory statutes must be read flexibly to permit efficient law enforcement.”

“At bottom, that is what this dispute is about: can the Executive displace clear congressional command in the name of resource allocation and enforcement goals? Here, the answer is no,” he added.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich, Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost sued the Biden administration in November 2021 over the policy revision, which they said: “dramatically ties the hands of immigration officers, halting nearly all deportations.”

That month, the Department of Homeland Security, which oversees ICE, issued permanent guidance to limit whom ICE could arrest and thus remove from the country.

The guidance established that ICE officers had to obtain permission to arrest illegal immigrants who had not been convicted of an aggravated felony, were not affiliated with a gang or terrorist network or had illegally entered the U.S. before November 2020.

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However, liberals are not backing down in the fight.

Liberal groups and some former government officials are calling on the U.S. Supreme Court to reinstate the Biden administration’s policy that narrowed which immigrants should be targeted for removal.

On Monday, the groups “told the high court in eight friend-of-the-court briefs filed Monday that they each had strong interests in the policy staying intact,” Law360 reported.

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“As former DHS and [Immigration and Naturalization Service] officials, amici know well the importance of these policies,” a group of former DHS and INS officials said. “Policies setting enforcement goals and priorities allow immigration officials to concentrate resources on noncitizens whose removal would best serve government interests….”

“The policy notably put in place a case-by-case analysis in determining whether an individual should be removed, and notably emphasized that officials should dive into the circumstances of someone’s criminal convictions rather than rely only on the fact that the individual was convicted,” Law360 noted in its report.

“The Biden administration petitioned for a writ of certiorari in July, asking the high court to take up its case for review. The former DHS and INS officials said that while they differed in their views of the guidelines as a matter of policy, they all have observed first-hand the critical role guidelines play in immigration law enforcement. Administrations of both parties have for decades used their enforcement discretion to meet the “unique and variable” challenges in immigration, the officials added, pointing to how administrations have used their discretion in addressing limited enforcement resources as an example,” the report added.

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“But even if the policy did prohibit DHS officers from making certain arrests, the lower Texas court’s decision to toss the case still couldn’t stand since the relevant immigration statutes concerning the detention and removal of noncitizens didn’t deprive DHS of its “prosecutorial discretion” to decide whether to go forward with removal proceedings. A group of 21 local governments and local government organizations said their interest in keeping removal discretion with the federal government lies in the fact that millions of their residents are immigrants,” the report continued.

“Without such discretion, the health and safety of amici’s communities will suffer,” their brief reads. “Immigrants will increasingly fear deportation, leading many to avoid contact with local law enforcement or healthcare services — a result that would harm all of amici’s residents.”

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