FederalImmigration & BorderSouthern District Court of Texas Blocks Deportation Freeze by Biden Administration

The Southern District Court of Texas granted a request for a temporary restraining order from the State of Texas to prevent the Biden administration from freezing deportations.
January 26, 2021
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Judge Drew Tipton of the Southern District Court of Texas signed a temporary restraining order (TRO) on Tuesday that prohibits the Biden administration from enforcing a memorandum that would freeze many deportations for a 100-day period that began last week.

“The Court’s decision to stop the Biden Administration from casting aside congressionally enacted immigration laws is a much-needed remedy for DHS’s unlawful action. A near-complete suspension of deportations would only serve to endanger Texans and undermine federal law,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.

“Blatantly illegal security threats cannot be allowed to stand, and the rule of law must be upheld. I commend the Court for prioritizing the law and safety of our citizens, and I will continue to defend Texas against the unlawful and unconstitutional actions of President Biden and his Administration.”

Paxton filed a lawsuit against the administration in the court last week, arguing that the measure violates an agreement signed between the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the State of Texas.

The agreement, signed in the last weeks of the Trump administration, stipulated that in return for Texas’ support in enforcing border and immigration security, the department would consult the state before any major policy change.

The Texan Mug

Representatives of the state say no such consultation took place when acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske signed the memorandum shortly after the presidential inauguration.

The agreement between DHS and Texas also states that the department would “promote the return or removal from the United States of inadmissible and removable aliens,” which Paxton says is clearly at odds with the memorandum.

Pekoske’s instructed freeze on deportation had a few exceptions, including the deportations of those who the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has found to be engaged in or “suspected of terrorism, or otherwise poses a danger to the national security of the United States.”

Tipton notes in his order that the basis for granting the TRO “is not based on” the agreement that served as the basis for Texas’ argument.

“The issues implicated by that Agreement are of such gravity and constitutional import that they require further development of the record and briefing prior to addressing the merits,” wrote Tipton.

The judge said that “maintaining the status quo as it existed prior to the” memorandum’s pause on deportations “is appropriate under the Administrative Procedures Act.”

Tipton was nominated to his position by President Trump and the U.S. Senate approved his nomination in a partisan-line vote last June, with both Texas senators applauding his appointment.

The full TRO that Tipton issued can be found below.

UPDATE: The piece has been updated with quotes from the attorney general.

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Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend

Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.