WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court handed Texas and Louisiana an interim victory Thursday, allowing a federal judge to block the Biden administration’s immigration enforcement guidelines that he said allowed the release of undocumented immigrants with criminal records.
In a brief order, the court did not provide any reasons, which is usual when judges act on emergency requests, but said it will consider an appeal of the case and hear the arguments this year.
Four justices defected: Justice Amy Connie Barrett and the three Liberal members. This included Justice Kitangi Brown-Jackson, who recorded her first vote since she was sworn in last month.
The guidelines, released in September, set priorities for determining which migrants should be arrested and deported, with an emphasis on “national security, public safety and border security.” But they also gave Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents great discretion to decide whether enforcement actions are justified.
The guidelines were part of an effort to roll back the Trump administration’s extensive immigration detention policies. This ruling is not likely to fundamentally change the way ICE operates, in part because the agency does not have the ability to detain all immigrants with criminal convictions. But it was another setback for the Biden administration on immigration, which has become a political responsibility as officials struggled to contain waves of immigrants at the border and had to fight numerous court battles to try to replace the hard-line policies they inherited. .
The most important decisions of the Supreme Court in this chapter
A very important term. The US Supreme Court made several major decisions during its last term, including rulings on abortion, guns, and religion. Here is a look at some of the key cases:
Biden administration officials said it was imperative that ICE set priorities in light of the fact that there are more than 11 million non-citizens in the United States and that the federal government does not have the resources to arrest them and seek to deport them all.
Texas and Louisiana sued to block the guidelines, which they said allowed many immigrants with criminal records to remain at large while their cases moved forward, placing burdens on states’ justice systems.
Judge Drew B. A unanimous panel of three judges in the US Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, in New Orleans, declined to suspend the ruling.
The committee, in an unsigned opinion, said the Department of Homeland Security gave improper weight to policy considerations in a memo describing the department’s approach.
The committee wrote, “For example, it states that the guidelines are ‘necessary to reinforce this administration’s stated commitment to promoting equality for all, including people of color and others who have historically been underserved and marginalized and have been negatively affected by persistent poverty and inequality.'”
“The Department of Homeland Security’s replacement of congressional mandates with concerns about equality and race is outside the law, given that such policy concerns are clearly outside the limits of the authority conferred by” immigration laws, the commission wrote.
In a separate but nearly identical case brought by three other states — Arizona, Montana, and Ohio — a three-judge panel unanimously from Cincinnati’s Sixth Circuit reached the opposite conclusion.
Chief Justice Jeffrey S. Sutton, while writing for the committee, said the guidelines are in line with the approach of previous administrations. “Federal law gives the national government significant power over immigration policy,” he wrote.
In a request for emergency relief from the Supreme Court in the case brought by Texas and Louisiana, Attorney General Elizabeth Prilugar wrote that Judge Tipton’s ruling was “disrupting the Department of Homeland Security’s efforts to focus its limited resources on noncitizens who pose the most serious threat to the security, public safety, and integrity of our nation’s borders.”
Ms. Prilugar also suggested that the court treat the stay order as a petition for consideration of the case before any final judgment in lower courts. The unsigned order said the court would do so, setting arguments for “the first week of the December 2022 debate session.”
Ms. Prilugar also suggested that the court could use the case to curb what she called a “worrying trend” for states suing the federal government.
“For most of our nation’s history, we would never have heard of a suit like this.” Prelogar wrote, adding, “The courts have not allowed states to sue the federal government based on spillover effects of federal policies.”
Recently, I wrote, such suits have become popular. She wrote that California has filed 122 lawsuits against the Trump administration, or about one every two weeks, while Texas has sued the Biden administration 27 times, with 11 immigration cases.
Ms. Prilugar also questioned the national scope of Judge Tipton’s ruling, saying it gave the three states in the other case “the same relief that the Sixth Circuit denied in its lawsuit.”
In response, attorneys for Texas and Louisiana wrote that states have suffered direct and tangible injuries that allow them to sue, adding that federal law requires the administration to detain immigrants whose release guidelines allow.
Charlie Savage And the Eileen Sullivan Contribute to the preparation of reports.