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Supreme Court Allows Biden to Limit Immigration Arrests

Jun 23, 2023

The U.S. Supreme Court revived a Biden administration policy that restricts arrests of undocumented immigrants to those deemed a threat to public safety or national security.

The court determined that the states of Texas and Louisiana, which challenged the administration’s guidelines in the case of United States v. Texas, lacked the legal standing to bring the lawsuit. The final decision, with a vote of 8-1, saw Justice Samuel Alito as the sole dissenter.

Th decision is a significant win for the Biden administration, affirming the executive branch’s broad authority to shape the enforcement of federal immigration laws without interference from legal challenges. It reinforces the power of the administration to direct ICE agents to prioritize the apprehension and deportation of individuals who pose the greatest risks to public safety, national security, and border security, as outlined in a memo issued in 2021 by Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas.

The policy, which generally protects undocumented immigrants from arrest who have not committed serious crimes faced opposition from Texas and Louisiana. They argued that the policy hindered ICE agents from fully enforcing immigration laws concerning the detention of specific migrants. The lower courts initially blocked the policy, leading the case to be heard by the Supreme Court.

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In the majority opinion, Justice Brett Kavanaugh described the lawsuit brought by Texas and Louisiana as “extraordinarily unusual.” He argued that federal courts traditionally do not entertain requests to alter arrest policies of the executive branch in order to increase the number of arrests. Kavanaugh maintained that disputes regarding immigration arrests should not be resolved through the judiciary but rather through congressional appropriations, legislative changes, and federal elections. He cautioned that accepting the states’ arguments could enable state interference in federal law enforcement matters beyond immigration.

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