FederalImmigration & BorderFederal Judge Requires Feds to Continue Deportations Despite Biden Pause

The court found that the federal government is required to enforce immigration law.
February 25, 2021
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The State of Texas won a temporary victory against the Biden administration in a federal courtroom on Tuesday as a U.S. district judge disallowed the federal government from proceeding with a 100-day hiatus on deportations.

Judge Drew B. Tipton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas in Victoria granted the state’s motion for a nationwide preliminary injunction.

Tipton had previously granted a temporary restraining order blocking the deportation moratorium, but the judge’s latest order is in effect until the suit is decided or unless a higher court overrides the ruling.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton backed Tipton’s ruling and reiterated his view that a deportation freeze jeopardizes public safety.

“I fully support the Court’s decision to prevent implementation of the Biden Administration’s unlawful action and prioritize Texans’ safety and the rule of law,” Paxton said in a press release

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“A freeze on deportations at this scale would undermine federal law, irreparably harm our great state, and directly endanger our citizens. Law and order must be upheld. I will continue to defend Texas against those who unlawfully ignore United States law in favor of their own policy preferences.”

Tipton opined that the deportation pause, if it had been allowed to proceed, would continue to affect the state even after the 100 days.

The judge wrote that “the Court is persuaded that Texas’s injury from the 100-day pause would persist long after it is lifted.”

Tipton noted in his ruling that, in Fiscal Year 2018, detaining illegal immigrants accused of criminal violations cost Texas taxpayers $152 million, of which the federal government reimbursed less than $15 million.

He also wrote that border police removed a combined average of 161 illegal immigrants per day from Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio during Fiscal Year 2019, amounting to a total of 58,916.

The court also found that the state had “special solicitude” because an unexpected drop in deportations would have a pointed impact on the state’s budget, which is written by the legislature on a biennial basis.

Among other accusations Texas leveled was the assertion that the White House’s decision to suspend deportations is “arbitrary and capricious.”

The federal government argued in court that it is within its rights to decide when it will “prosecute” cases against illegal immigrants, while Texas contended that the law requires federal authorities to remove illegal immigrants in part because of the law’s use of the word “shall.”

The court favored Texas’ argument, saying that a national end to deportation proceedings is not an action that is within “agency discretion.” 

“In the end, through all their detailed explanation of the Executive’s seemingly unending discretion […] the Defendants substantially undervalue the People’s grant of ‘legislative Powers’ to Congress,” Tipton asserted in his ruling. “Here, the Government has changed ‘shall remove’ to ‘may remove’ when it unambiguously means must remove.”

Last year, the U.S. Senate confirmed Tipton as a federal judge in a 52 to 41 vote after former President Trump nominated him.

Update: This article has been updated to reflect that the order was entered on Tuesday.

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Hayden Sparks

Hayden Sparks is a reporter for The Texan. He has coached high school competitive speech and debate and has also been involved in community theater and politics. A native Texan, Hayden served as a delegate at the Republican Party of Texas Convention in 2016. He is on track to receive a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Liberty University. In his free time, Hayden is known to take walks around the neighborhood while listening to random music on Spotify.