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Federal judge blocks Biden’s 100-day deportation pause, indefinitely

Migrants in Matamoros, Mexico. (Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times/TNS)
February 24, 2021

A federal judge indefinitely barred enforcement of President Joe Biden’s 100-day pause on most deportations.

The Associated Press reported that U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued the ruling Tuesday in a case brought by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, which argued the suspension on deportations violated federal law and would likely result in additional costs for the border state.  

The Biden administration announced a 100-day pause on “certain noncitizen” deportations during the president’s first day in office.

Then-acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske said the pause, which went into effect Friday, Jan. 22, 2021, was ordered “to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety.”

“The pause will allow DHS to ensure that its resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces, including immediate operational challenges at the southwest border in the midst of the most serious global public health crisis in a century,” Mr. Pekoske’s statement read.

On January 26, the Trump-appointed Texas judge first ruled that the pause violated federal law and that the federal government did not provide adequate justification for the move, issuing a temporary restraining order that was set to expire Tuesday.  

“Texas has thus far satisfactorily demonstrated it is entitled to immediate and temporary relief from the January 20 Memorandum’s 100-day pause on removals,” Tipton at the time.

In the lawsuit, Paxton accused the Biden administration of violating the U.S. Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law and a contractual agreement between the DHS and Texas, with an order that he said “would seriously and irreparably harm Texas and its citizens.”

“In one of its first of dozens of steps that harm Texas and the nation as a whole, the Biden administration directed [Department of Homeland Security] to violate federal immigration law and breach an agreement to consult and cooperate with Texas on that law,” Paxton said.

Tipton’s latest ruling does not mean deportations must restart at their prior pace, noting that immigration agencies have the other ways to impact removal enforcement and immigration agencies tend to have wide latitude in enforcing removals, according to the Associated Press.

Earlier this week, a Washington Times exclusive report revealed that the Biden administration’s latest Homeland Security plan would effectively abolish U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) administratively.

During a remote meeting with agency personnel in Texas, several individuals familiar with the plans said Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas proposed converting some of the 4,000 ICE agents to criminal investigators, a move deportation officers compared to city police departments transferring beat cops to detectives, effectively ending street patrols for basic crimes.

“This is an administrative abolishment of ICE as we currently know it,” one source told The Washington Times.

Additionally, ICE recently issued new rules requiring officers to make written requests for supervisors’ approval to deport “low priority” illegal immigrants, including drunken drivers, certain domestic assault offenders, identity theft convicts and other felons whose crimes aren’t “aggravated”

Homeland Security officials did not say the number of deportations they anticipate will be canceled as a result of the new rules. Each case will be judged based on outside factors like family ties, officials said.