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Supreme Court will hear challenges to Biden rules reducing ICE immigration arrests

The Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments on Tuesday in a case that challenges the executive branch’s power to issue regulations governing the enforcement of US immigration laws, as well as the ability of states and organizations to challenge those directives. can make a big impact.

At the center of the court case, known as US v. Texas, is a directive issued in September 2021 by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorcas to prioritize arrests of immigrants who recently entered the US illegally. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents were directed to Also immigrants deemed a threat to national security or public safety, while other unauthorized immigrants without serious criminal records are effectively exempt from enforcement.

The Biden administration argued that the directive allowed ICE to focus its finite resources – and 6,000 deportation agents – on efforts to arrest and deport unauthorized immigrants deemed law enforcement priorities. The administration said the government neither has nor the resources to arrest and deport the millions of immigrants estimated to be living in the US without legal permission.

Republican officials in Texas and Louisiana filed lawsuits against Mayorkas’ memo, arguing that it prevented ICE agents from fully enforcing US immigration laws. In June, a federal judge in Texas agreed with state officials, declaring the Biden administration’s rules illegal and barring ICE agents from enforcing them.

After this, the Biden administration sought the intervention of the Supreme Court. High Court in July refused to lift the moratorium on Mayorkas’s memo, but agreed to hear the merits of the case.

After Tuesday’s oral arguments, the Supreme Court will be tasked with deciding three questions: whether Texas and Louisiana had legal standing to sue the Biden administration, whether Mayorkas’ memorandum is valid and whether federal courts have jurisdiction over immigration enforcement. Can set aside controlling policies.

While Customs and Border Protection (CBP) is charged with intercepting unauthorized immigrants and illegal drugs along US borders, ICE is responsible for arresting, detaining and deporting immigrants who have committed immigration violations.

ICE flights skirt sanctuary cities to transport undocumented detainees
ICE agents prepare to board detainees on a flight at McCormick Air Center on February 18, 2020 in Yakima, Washington.

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For decades, including prior to the creation of ICE in 2003, U.S. deportation agents have been instructed to exercise long-standing law enforcement authority, known as “prosecutionary discretion,” to determine whether The filing of charges or making an arrest is just and furthers the interest of justice.

Amid progressive criticism of mass deportations, the Obama administration issued several memos instructing ICE agents to focus on arresting certain classes of deported immigrants, including recent border crossers and public safety or security concerns. Those found to be a threat to national security are included. It also ended mass ICE arrests at work sites, which had sparked an outcry among advocates during the George W. Bush administration.

The Trump administration rescinded the Obama memo, dramatically increasing the number of unauthorized immigrants ICE agents could arrest. Soon after President Biden took office, his administration rescinded Trump’s directive and issued a memorandum that again focused ICE on arresting immigrants who pose a threat to national security, public safety or border security. instructed to do.

In his September 2021 memo, Mayorkas included the same three priority groups for arrests, but eliminated a clear definition for the public safety category. Instead, he instructed agents to weigh “aggravating factors” such as the seriousness of crimes and previous convictions, as well as “mitigating factors” such as an immigrant’s age, the number of years they lived in the U.S. and military service, When deciding what to make an arrest.

Mayorkas’ directive is part of the Biden administration’s effort to overhaul ICE. The administration has also directed the agency to end mass workplace arrests and long-term detention of families with minor children and to stop arresting pregnant women, victims of serious crimes and military veterans.

With operational limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Biden administration’s regulations have sharply reduced ICE arrests and deportations in the US interior. ICE carried out 59,011 deportations in fiscal year 2021, the lowest number on record. In fiscal year 2022, which ends Sept. 30, the number of ICE deportations is expected to rise to 69,019, according to government data.

Republican lawmakers have strongly criticized the historically low number of deportations, alleging that the Biden administration is not fully enforcing US immigration laws amid record levels of migrant apprehensions at the US-Mexico border.

During the pandemic, US border officials have relied on a public health authority known as Title 42 to swiftly repatriate a significant number of migrants. Because Title 42 is a public health authority, removals are not counted as formal deportations under the policy.

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