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Judge issues setback for Biden’s ICE removal priorities

Back in February, The Biden administration issued the guidance which limited agents to focusing on three categories of immigrants: those who pose a threat to national security; those who have crossed the border since Nov. 1, and those who committed “aggravated felonies.” It followed on from Jan 20 guidance issued by the Department of Homeland Security.  The guidance does not explicitly prevent anyone from being arrested or deported. Instead, it directs resources at certain targets. However, field officers seeking to arrest someone outside of those three categories needed approval from their chain of command.

A federal judge on Thursday imposed a preliminary injunction on the Biden administration’s rules for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers that significantly narrowed the categories of illegal immigrants being targeted for arrest and deportation.  This ruling is another setback for Biden’s immigration reforms.  Judge Drew Tipton ruled that the policy was in violation of congressional mandates, and that Louisiana and Texas, which filed the lawsuit, were likely to succeed in their claim that the policy violated the Administrative Procedures Act (APA.)

“By focusing our limited resources on cases that present threats to national security, border security and public safety, our agency will more ably and effectively execute its law enforcement mission,” ICE acting Director Tae Johnson said in a statement. “Like every law enforcement agency at the local, state and federal level, we must prioritize our efforts to achieve the greatest security and safety impact.”  The guidance coincided with a sharp drop in arrests and deportations by the agency, and accused the Biden administration of trying to handcuff the agency. Arizona and Montana had also sued over the guidance in a separate lawsuit.

Earlier this year, Judge Tipton blocked the Biden administration from imposing a 100-day deportation freeze on ICE.  Last week, a federal judge ordered the administration to “enforce and implement” the Trump-era Remain-in-Mexico policy in response to a lawsuit from Texas and Missouri – while giving them seven days to appeal.

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