The Supreme Court has refused to reinstate an immigration detention policy by the Biden Administration that would direct Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers to prioritize immigrants who threaten national security or public safety. The ruling comes after a decision by a Texas district court judge, who ruled that the policy violated federal law. The Department of Justice (DOJ) requested the policy be allowed to remain in place while the decision was being appealed, but the Supreme Court rejected their request.
What Is This Rule?
In September 2021, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a new rule directing ICE officials to prioritize detention of those who recently crossed the border, as well as those who are believed to pose a threat to public safety or national security. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said, in putting forward this directive, that simply being present in the United States without authorization “should not alone be the basis” for arrest or removal. This rule made it a reality by directing ICE’s resources towards those who posed the greatest threat to the U.S.
Why Was This Rule Blocked?
The attorneys generals of several states filed federal lawsuits to block this rule, claiming it violated federal law. Of those suits, two were successful, one in Louisiana and one in Texas. The Supreme Court ruling concerned the Texas case, where the district court judge agreed with the Texas Attorney General that the rule violated federal laws that require ICE to detain and deport immigrants with recent deportation orders or those who commit serious crimes.
What Was the Supreme Court Ruling About?
The primary question before the Supreme Court was whether DHS could allow this new rule to remain in place while the Texas district court case was appealed. In a 5-4 decision, the Court decided against restoring the rule, meaning that the DHS directive is not currently guiding ICE’s activities. In the meantime, the DOJ will appeal the case, in the hopes of reversing the Texas district court’s decision.
What Does This Mean For Immigrants?
Had the rule been able to come into effect, it would mean many immigrants would be able to breathe a sigh of relief knowing that ICE would be less likely to go after them. With the rule now in legal limbo, however, immigrants are back to worrying about the possibility of detention and deportation by ICE. Any immigrant who is concerned about the risk of arrest or removal from the United States should speak to an immigration lawyer, who can advise them on their best course of action going forward.
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