By Ellen Gilmer / Bloomberg News (TNS)
Pressure from President Joe Biden to relax the Trump administration’s strict policies on locking up unauthorized immigrants gathered momentum with a court ruling on Wednesday.
A federal appeals court said the Biden administration’s interim policy on relaxing protocols for the detention and arrest of migrants should not have been blocked in August by a Texas trial judge.
The three-judge panel’s decision marks a rare victory for the Democratic president’s immigration program, which has suffered multiple legal setbacks in challenges from most GOP-led southern states.
Biden officials adopted the temporary enforcement priorities soon after taking office, reversing the Trump administration’s broader and more punitive approach to immigrant detention and deportation procedures. The new policy asked immigration and customs enforcement officers to focus on the arrest and deportation of those identified as threats to national security or public safety.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have criticized the policy, saying it interferes with the ability of ICE agents to arrest and deport criminals. The Biden administration and its allies say the government is entitled to discretion in how it uses its enforcement resources.
Wednesday’s decision allows ICE to continue to rely on Biden policy in most cases while the litigation continues. The New Orleans Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals retained a narrow part of the lower court’s decision requiring the ICE to detain undocumented immigrants who are already subject to detention or deportation orders.
The Department of Homeland Security plans to release final enforcement priorities as early as this month to replace the temporary policy at issue in the litigation.
The Appeal Board is made up of two judges appointed by former President Barack Obama, James Graves and Gregg Costa, and a judge appointed by former President George W. Bush, Leslie Southwick. The August ruling was handed down by U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton of Victoria, Texas, who was appointed by Donald Trump.