U.S. District Court Judge Drew Tipton in the Southern District of Texas extended his temporary halt to President Biden’s 100-day deportation freeze. Biden issued an executive order during his first day in office to stop deportations during the first 100 days of his administration. The judge argues that the move is bad for Texas.
Biden’s freeze on deportations has been a hot issue for Texas. After the election in November, Biden signaled he would make a move to completely undo the progress of the Trump administration on border security. He specifically said he was looking into suspending deportations. So, on January 20, Biden delivered his order and this produced the first lawsuit against his administration. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton sued to stop the freeze. Just two days after the order for the freeze was signed, the lawsuit was in the works and a 14-day injunction was placed on the order. All of this brings us to Tuesday. Judge Tipton extended his temporary injunction for another 14-day period through February 23.
The judge says his injunction will give parties time to “provide for a more fulsome record” to assist the court in “adjudicating Texas’s motion for a Preliminary Injunction.” He also tossed the Biden administration a bone by stating that it may have an argument for their case in immigration reform. For now, though, the harm that may be done to Texas outweighs any good that Biden thinks he is doing.
The judge also cites “the irreparable harm that would accrue to Texas if an extension” was not granted.
The order did state, though, that the Biden administration “argued that the 100-day pause on removals is necessary to allow” them to take account “important immigration, foreign policy, and humanitarian considerations.”
“The Court may ultimately be persuaded by the Defendants’ arguments, but any harm they might incur between now and then does not outweigh the potential for irreparable harm to Texas,” Tipton wrote.
Tipton is a Trump appointee who took the bench last year. Judge Tipton’s injunction is a nationwide one that protects Texas. Illegal aliens freely travel from other states so for geographic reasons, simply issuing the injunction for Texas doesn’t fully protect the state. The Biden administration is still working on putting its final touch on immigration policy reforms but they are off to a dreadful start. There is a list of crimes that will no longer warrant deportation for illegal aliens by Biden’s immigration reforms. Internal memos and emails have been sent to the appropriate agencies to give them their new instructions.
While ICE’s new operational plans are not yet final, interim instructions sent to senior officials point to a major shift in enforcement. Agents will no longer seek to deport immigrants for crimes such as driving under the influence and assault, and will focus instead on national security threats, recent border crossers, and people completing prison and jail terms for aggravated felony convictions.
“Generally, these convictions would not include drug based crimes (less serious offenses), simple assault, DUI, money laundering, property crimes, fraud, tax crimes, solicitation, or charges without convictions,” acting Director Tae Johnson told senior officials in a Thursday email advising them on how to operate while new guidelines are finalized.
ICE agents are not happy about their new orders. They were prepared for major changes from Biden, they say, but not these kinds of restrictions on agents.
Immigrants should be considered public safety threats if they have an institutional record of violent behavior, well-documented gang affiliations or aggravated felony convictions, Johnson told senior staff. Such crimes would include murder, rape, child abuse and major drug offenses, and agents should prioritize those released after the issuance of the Jan. 20 memo, he wrote.
In instances where the aggravated felony is more than 10 years old and not the reason for a recent arrest, that individual would not be considered a public safety threat, Johnson indicated. Gang tattoos or records showing “loose affiliation with gang activity” would also not meet the narrower criteria.
ICE agents are confused by conflicting messages. The Biden deportation freeze doesn’t call for an immediate release of illegal aliens being held for deportation but an email sent to ICE officers in Texas says something different. “As of midnight tonight, stop all removals,” the email reads. “This includes Mexican bus runs, charter flights and commercial removals (until further notice) … all cases are to be considered [no significant likelihood of removal in foreseeable future].” The email goes on to say: “Release them all, immediately. No sponsor available is not acceptable any longer.”
What a mess. The open border fever dreams of the Biden administration are giving hope to young people brought to the United States illegally to file for DACA protection. The number of DACA applications are soaring.
“We are getting twice as many people seeking help with DACA since Biden” became president, said Alain Cisneros, an organizer with FIEL Houston, the largest nonprofit of “dreamers” in the city. The name “Dreamers” comes from the the DREAM Act — Development, Relief, and Education for Immigrant Minors — which was introduced in Congress in 2001 to provide a permanent immigration status with a path to citizenship for them.
National organizations such as ImmigrationHelp.org, a nonprofit that helps immigrants apply for several programs free of charge, are also seeing an uptick.
“This new administration is much more accepting of DACA and immigrants, and I think that translates into less fear among them,” said Fernando Urbina, a Harvard University student and one of the founders of ImmigrationHelp.org
There are currently just over 640,000 illegal aliens nationwide who are protected by DACA. The Trump administration tried to shut the program down in 2017. Several challenges in court have kept the program in place. On December 7 a federal court in New York ordered the government to restart the program in full.
“Their confidence in actually filing applications has definitely gone up since the inauguration,” said Jill Campbell, director of Immigration and Citizenship at BakerRipley, the largest charitable organization in Texas providing immigration and other services.
Many of the immigrants applying now for the first time are young people in their 20s and 30s who, like Rodríguez, were afraid to give their information to the authorities.
Others have aged into eligibility over the past three years. Approximately 61,000 eligible immigrants have reached the minimum age required to apply while the program was closed to first-timers, according to the National Immigration Forum.
Immigrants must meet several conditions to qualify: They have to have come to the U.S. before the age of 16, been in residence here continuously since 2007, and be under the age of 31 as of June 15, 2012.
To be in the program, they also must be currently in school or have graduated with at least a GED.
The only state with more DACA recipients is California. In the Senate, legislation has been introduced by Sens. Dick Durbin and Lindsey Graham that would provide a path to citizenship for dreamers. With Biden promising amnesty to all illegal aliens in the country, this would follow along with his plan.