US Can’t Set Priorities for Immigration Enforcement, Court Says

On August 19, a federal judge in Texas ruled against the Biden administration regarding its right to set immigration enforcement priorities. The lawsuit is part of a campaign in Texas to enforce immigration law at a harsher level than has ever been required or carried out by ICE. The court’s ruling will take effect on September 3rd unless it is overturned by a higher court.

Here’s the story:

In February, the DHS issued two memos to ICE regarding immigration enforcement. The memos served as a set of guidelines for local ICE offices to prioritize the use of their resources by focusing enforcement on immigrants who are risks to public safety, border security, or national security. Again, ICE offices were told these were guidelines, which allowed them leeway to utilize other priorities as they saw fit. These enforcement priorities closely resemble the enforcement priorities during the Obama administration.

Texas and Louisiana filed a lawsuit against the US government over these enforcement priorities, claiming that it was harming their citizens in two ways:

  1. Subjecting them to crimes committed by immigrants who should be detained
  2. Diverting state resources toward education and medical treatment for immigrants who should be detained

In response, the US government argued that it’s the federal government’s duty to enforce immigration, but because resources are finite, they have to set priorities for how they enforce immigration.

Unfortunately, the Texas judge sided against the Biden administration on this.

As a result, Texas has been directing its ICE offices to immediately detain any immigrant with a criminal conviction, including non-violent charges. This is harsh, wasteful, and counter-productive, which is why most enforcement offices don’t do it that way. Now, ICE will be required to submit a report to the court of any immigrants with a criminal conviction they didn’t detain, as well as an explanation why.

Enforcement priorities aren’t just more humane and just; they’re also common sense. If you have a limited number of officers and investigative resources, then of course you’ll use those resources on the cases most likely to have a negative impact on the community. By forcing officers to detain anyone with a conviction on their record without any discretion, Texas is making it more likely for bad actors to remain on the streets while robbing the community of productive residents who may have committed a mistake.

Our New Jersey deportation defense lawyers will be following this story as it develops. If you have questions about your immigration options, speak with us in a confidential consultation at (800) 909-8129 today.