Immigration and Customs Enforcement employees were told Thursday that despite a federal judge blocking President Joe Biden’s pause on deportations, they should still focus on removing people who fit the priorities of the new administration, such as those considered threats to public safety, according to an email obtained by BuzzFeed. News.
Federal Judge Drew Tipton indefinitely blocked the Biden administration from continuing a 100-day moratorium on most deportations on Tuesday. Tipton, a Trump appointee, said the memo violated administrative law and that the state of Texas, which had filed a lawsuit against the White House, adequately demonstrated that it would face damages from increased numbers of detainees and public education costs.
The court order was a blow to Biden’s goal of stopping the deportations while the Department of Homeland Security policies and possible reforms are reviewed. However, in issuing his order, Tipton did not require DHS to deport certain people or reverse a shift in priorities for whom to arrest and detain.
The Biden moratorium applied to all non-citizens with final deportation orders, except those who have engaged in an alleged act of terrorism, persons who were not in the US prior to November 1, 2020, or those who voluntarily agreed to renounce any right to remain in the country.
Matthew Allen, the acting deputy director of ICE, wrote to employees that while the court order blocked Biden’s moratorium, it does not prevent them from making deportation decisions on a case-by-case basis, such as granting a stay for those facing removal from the country.
ICE employees were told not to consider the blocked moratorium on whether to deport someone, but they should continue to follow the previous guidelines on “prioritizing deportation resources.”
In January, a DHS memorandum told employees to focus their efforts on immigrants who pose a threat to national security or other threats to public safety, along with people who came to the U.S. After 1 of November. basically the same group of people.
A Department of Homeland Security official told reporters at the time that the interim guidelines, which are expected to be followed by another directive in May, will help the agency “better carry out” its mission.
The email sent Thursday comes amid the Biden administration’s attempts to reform the much-maligned agency and the work it carries out across the country. Former President Donald Trump’s directive in 2017 made nearly all undocumented immigrants a priority for arrest, leading to a higher proportion of those without criminal convictions being detained.
Some immigrant advocates and experts have lobbied the Biden administration to crack down on deportations, regardless of the order.
“The Biden administration should seek a stay of this order, which contradicts the broad enforcement decision-making power that the federal government generally has,” said Jaclyn Kelley-Widmer, a professor at the University of Immigration Law and Defense Clinic. Cornell, in a statement. “Also, while this order prohibited a complete halt to deportations, the Biden administration can and should be more careful about the deportations it does.”
For his part, Tipton questioned in his order why the moratorium was even necessary.
“Why does DHS need a 100-day pause in deportations to ‘fairly and efficiently’ process immigration and asylum applications at the Southwest border? Why is stopping deportations essential to redirect immigration resources? And equally crucial, why and how is the pause connected with the new Executive’s need to re-establish priorities? ” he wrote.