(USA Features) A federal judge on Thursday struck down an executive order issued by President Joe Biden directing immigration enforcement agents to focus on a narrow group of illegal aliens rather than broadly enforce statutes against illegal crossings.
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton of the Southern District of Texas, a Trump appointee, said that Texas and Missouri — two states that filed suit against the order — were likely to win on the merits of their argument that Biden violated the Administrative Procedures Act.
In addition, he ruled that border agents should be able to pursue migrants in “overlooked categories,” and that agents can’t be restricted just to certain categories of illegal aliens.
Biden’s order instructed Border Patrol and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to concentrate only on illegal immigrants with serious criminal records.
“Government has instructed federal officials that ‘shall detain’ certain aliens means ‘may detain’ when it unambiguously mean[s] must detain,” Tipton wrote.
“Thus, the court inquires whether the executive branch may direct officials to enforce a law enacted by Congress in a way that is contrary to the plain language of the law. That inquiry yields a clear answer: it may not,” he added.
The Hill noted:
The enforcement priorities laid out by the Biden administration in February deemed that those living in the U.S. without legal status would be considered a public safety threat if they’ve been convicted of an aggravated felony, a term that includes violent crimes but can include some serious but nonviolent offenses. The memo also encourages a focus on those involved in gang activity.
But Texas and Missouri argued this would prevent ICE agents from going after others with a criminal history.
“The States point out that the priority categories enumerated in these Memoranda omit certain others—namely, aliens convicted of serious drug offenses, aliens convicted of crimes of moral turpitude, and aliens subject to a final order of removal,” Tipton wrote.
The ruling is the latest in a series of legal actions against the Biden administration over immigration-related orders that the president issued on his first days in office.
The orders were aimed at overturning former President Donald Trump’s strict enforcement measures and agreements with third parties and countries to take back their citizens after they were caught crossing illegally into the U.S.