Los Angeles, Jan 26 (efe-epa).- A federal judge in Texas on Tuesday temporarily blocked President Joe Biden’s 100-day moratorium on the deportation of most undocumented immigrants in the United States.
The ruling came after Texas’s attorney general, Republican Ken Paxton, had filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s measure last week.
Paxton had argued that the moratorium was arbitrary because the state was not consulted beforehand.
US District Judge Drew Tipton of the Southern District of Texas agreed to Paxton’s request for a 14-day freeze on the national implementation of the new policy, which the Democratic head of state announced on the same day as his Jan. 20 inauguration.
His ruling said the Biden administration had failed to “provide any concrete, reasonable justification” for the moratorium.
A series of executive orders, memorandums and directives were issued on Biden’s first day in office, including several pertaining to immigration.
The measure opposed by Paxton was signed by the acting head of the Department of Homeland Security, David Pekoske, who said he was “directing an immediate pause on removals of any non-citizen with a final order of removal for 100 days.”
Exceptions were made in the case of non-citizens suspected of terrorism or espionage or otherwise deemed to pose a danger to US national security. Undocumented migrants subject to deportation also could opt to voluntarily leave the country.
The memorandum said the freeze was needed to “enable focusing the Department’s resources where they are most needed,” adding that the agency must “surge resources to the border in order to ensure safe, legal and orderly processing, to rebuild fair and effective asylum procedures that respect human rights and due process, to adopt appropriate public health guidelines and protocols and to prioritize responding to threats to national security, public safety and border security.”
Tipton on Monday had asked the Biden administration to provide information on how many immigrants had been released from custody as a result of the deportation moratorium.
Paxton, for his part, celebrated the ruling on Twitter.
“Texas is the FIRST state in the nation to bring a lawsuit against the Biden Admin. AND WE WON,” he wrote. “Within 6 days of Biden’s inauguration, Texas has HALTED his illegal deportation freeze.”
Tipton, who was nominated in early 2020 by then-President Donald Trump and confirmed by the Senate last June, scheduled a hearing for Jan. 28 to allow both sides to present their arguments.
The judge’s temporary restraining order, which pauses the Biden administration’s policy for 14 days, can be extended for an additional two weeks.
Prior to Tipton’s ruling, the American Civil Liberties Union had filed a brief urging him to deny the Texas attorney general’s request.
“The administration’s pause on deportations is not only lawful but necessary to ensure that families are not separated and people are not returned to danger needlessly while the new administration reviews past actions,” Kate Huddleston, attorney for the ACLU of Texas, said. EFE-EPA