HOUSTON – A federal judge on Tuesday barred the U.S. government from enforcing a 100-day deportation moratorium that is a key immigration priority of President Joe Biden.
U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order sought by Texas, which sued on Friday against a Department of Homeland Security memo that instructed immigration agencies to pause most deportations. Tipton said the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”
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 issue the moratorium.
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.
While Tipton’s order bars enforcement of a moratorium for 14 days, it does not require deportations to resume at their previous pace. Immigration agencies typically have latitude in processing cases and scheduling removal flights.
The Department of Homeland Security referred a request for comment to the White House, which issued a statement saying the moratorium was “wholly appropriate.”
“President Biden remains committed to taking immediate action to reform our immigration system to ensure it’s upholding American values while keeping our communities safe,” the White House said.
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.