A federal judge on Thursday night temporarily blocked one of the main tools of the Biden administration to try to manage the number of migrants in the custody of the US Customs and Border Protection.
The decision comes before Title 42 expires, and administration officials say it will make their job more difficult amid an expected influx of migrants at the US-Mexico border. An appeal is pending.
Here’s what to know:
The plan, released Wednesday, allows for the release of migrants from CBP custody without court dates, or, in some cases, their release on conditions.
As more and more migrants cross the border, the Department of Homeland Security says its plan will help relieve the severe strain on already overcrowded border facilities. As of Wednesday, there are more than 28,000 migrants in the custody of the Border Patrol, increasing capacity.
The administration has previously released migrants without court dates when dealing with an influx of migrants after they were screened and vetted by authorities. The plan would have allowed DHS to release migrants on “parole” on a case-by-case basis and require them to check in with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Florida sued to stop the policy, and District Judge T. Kent Wetherell agreed to block the plan for two weeks.
Wetherell, an appointee of former President Donald Trump, said the administration’s explanation for why its policy was only unveiled Wednesday, when the end of Title 42 had been expected for months, was lacking. He also said the Biden administration failed to prepare.
“Ignore the fact that even President Biden recently acknowledged that the border has been in trouble for ‘a few years,’ the defendants’ rhetoric at the end is futile because … this problem is largely one of their own making.” Defendant by adopting and implementing policies that encourage so-called ‘irregular migration’ which has become relatively regular in the last 2 years.
Wetherell added: “Furthermore, the Court failed to see a material difference between what CBP would have done under the challenged policy and what it said it should have done had the policy been mandated, because in both cases, foreigners are released from the country on an expedited basis that is not put through removal procedures and with little or no vetting and no monitoring.
Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, speaking on “CNN This Morning,” called the decision “very damaging” and said the administration is considering its options.
“The practice that the court prevented us from using (is) a practice used by previous administrations to relieve congestion,” Mayorkas said. “What we do is we process screen and vet individuals and if we don’t detain them, we release them so they can go through immigration enforcement processes, make any claims for relief, can them and if they do not succeed, they will be removed. .”
Assistant secretary for border and immigration policy Blas Nuñez-Neto said the ruling “will result in unsafe overcrowding of CBP facilities and undermine our ability to efficiently process and remove migrants, risking the creation of dangerous conditions for Border Patrol agents as well as non-citizens. in our custody.”
Wetherell’s ruling will block the policy for two weeks.
A preliminary injunction hearing is scheduled for May 19.