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The US Supreme Court has blocked the Biden administration from implementing a US immigration policy that prioritizes the deportation of migrants arriving illegally in the US who pose a significant risk to public safety. The recent order means that, for now, the policy remains frozen across the United States.
In a 5 – 4 vote, conservative Amy Coney Barrett joined liberal justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and newcomer to the bench Ketanji Brown Jackson, in agreeing that Biden could implement the policy, but five of their colleagues ruled otherwise. The Supreme Court has said that it would hear further arguments for the case in late November.
The order is the first public vote that Jackson has been a part of since she was confirmed by the US Senate and joined the Supreme Court on June 30 – following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer.
Biden administration emergency request
The Supreme Court judges convened amid an emergency request issued by the Biden administration following conflicting decisions by federal court appeals over a September directive from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), which paused deportation unless individuals had committed acts of terrorism, espionage or ‘horrific threats to public safety’.
A federal appeals court in Cincinnati overturned a district judge’s order that put the US immigration policy on hold in a lawsuit filed by Arizona, Ohio and Montana.
However, in a separate lawsuit filed by Louisiana and Texas, a federal judge in Texas ordered for the policy to be halted nationwide, while a federal appellate panel in New Orleans refused to step in.
According to US solicitor general, Elizabeth Prelogar, ‘the judge’s order amounted to a ‘nationwide, judicially-imposed overhaul of the executive branch’s enforcement priorities’.
Violates federal law
In their filing to the Supreme Court, Louisiana and Texas argued that the Biden administration’s guidance ‘violates federal law that requires the detention of people who are in the United States unlawfully and who have been convicted of serious criminal offences.
The two states claimed that they would face added costs of having to detain people that the federal government ‘might allow to remain free’ while in the United States, despite those people having a criminal record.
The policy, first issued after Joe Biden became President, updated Trump-era US immigration guidance that removed people from the United States irrespective of their criminal history or community ties.
Remain in Mexico
The Supreme Court’s ruling is another blow to the Biden administration’s efforts to force through so-called ‘meaningful’ US immigration reform. However, the Court did recently rule that Biden could end the controversial, Trump-era ‘Remain in Mexico’ US immigration policy.
Biden has being trying to scrap the ‘Remain in Mexico’ policy since the start of his administration. The controversial scheme forces certain non-Mexican citizens who entered the US back to Mexico.
The ruling on the Remain in Mexico policy was well received by the US Department of Homeland Security.
Meanwhile, policy director of the American Immigration Council Aaron Reichlin-Melnick said: “While we are heartened that the Supreme Court’s decision will end the cruel and inhumane Remain in Mexico program, stripping federal courts of their ability to issue injunctions in immigration enforcement and detention cases not brought by individual immigrants will have severe ramifications on immigrant rights going forward.”
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