Biden administration officially gives up on 100-day deportation pause

The legal battle over the Biden administration’s plan to halt all deportations during the president’s first 100 days in office came to an end this week when the state of Texas agreed to drop a lawsuit challenging the planned freeze.

The Department of Homeland Security quietly issued a statement May 6 confirming that the 100-day period during which the deportation moratorium would have taken effect had expired and the department “does not intend to extend or reinstate” any such policy.

Then-acting Homeland Security Secretary David Pekoske signed an order on Inauguration Day directing that agents “pause removals for certain noncitizens ordered deported to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety.”

The moratorium was to take effect Jan. 22 and was immediately challenged by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said it violated “the US Constitution, federal immigration and administrative law, and a contractual agreement between Texas and DHS.”

Migrants deported from the U.S. arrive in Mexico on March 23, 2021.
Migrants deported from the U.S. arrive in Mexico on March 23, 2021.

US District Judge Andrew Tipton initially issued a nationwide temporary restraining order blocking implementation of the policy for 14 days.

In February, Tipton handed Texas another legal victory by issuing a nationwide preliminary injunction halting the implementation of the freeze. In his order, Tipton wrote that the memo signed by Pekoske lacked “a rational explanation grounded in the facts
reviewed and the factors considered … this defect essentially makes DHS’s
determination to institute a 100-day pause on deportations an arbitrary and capricious choice.”

“This is a big win for Texas and the nation,” Paxton said in a statement Thursday. “It sends a clear message to the Biden Administration that they will not be able to violate federal immigration law and endanger the lives of Texans. This Administration’s failed policies have only exacerbated the crisis at our southern border, and further exhausted the regular duties of our law enforcement officers.”

Meanwhile, DHS said this week it was taking steps to ease pandemic-induced asylum restrictions. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the Biden administration has agreed to eventually let about 250 people cross the southern border each day to seek refuge in the United States.

About 2,000 people have already been exempted from expulsion and allowed to enter the country to pursue asylum or other forms of protection in the United States, ACLU attorney Lee Gelernt told the Associated Press.

Migrants await reentrance into Mexico while sitting in an ambulance.
Migrants await reentrance into Mexico while sitting in an ambulance.

Biden has faced criticism from progressives for keeping asylum off-limits to many and creating policies that encourage parents to send children across the border alone. Enforcement-minded critics say exempting unaccompanied children from expulsion led to record numbers crossing the U.S.-Mexico border and that further lifting restrictions will invite many more people to come.

Immigration advocates have ratcheted up pressure to end expulsions entirely, arguing that they cannot be defended solely on the grounds of protecting public health. Migrants are typically expelled to Mexico within two hours of getting picked up by Border Patrol agents.

With Post wires