HOUSTON -- A federal judge late Tuesday indefinitely banned President Joe Biden's administration from enforcing a 100-day moratorium on most deportations.
U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a preliminary injunction sought by Texas, which argued the moratorium violated federal law and risked imposing additional costs on the state.
Biden proposed the 100-day pause on deportations during his campaign as part of a larger review of immigration enforcement and an attempt to reverse the priorities of former President Donald Trump. Biden has proposed a sweeping immigration bill that would allow the legalization of an estimated 11 million people living in the U.S. illegally. He has also instituted other guidelines on whom immigration and border agents should target for enforcement.
Tipton, a Trump appointee, initially ruled on Jan. 26 that the moratorium violated federal law on administrative procedure and that the U.S. failed to show why a deportation pause was justified. A temporary restraining order the judge issued was set to expire Tuesday.
Tipton's ruling did not require deportations to resume at their previous pace. Even without a moratorium, immigration agencies have wide latitude in enforcing removals and processing cases.
But in the days that followed his ruling, authorities deported 15 people to Jamaica and hundreds of others to Central America. The Biden administration has also continued expelling immigrants under a separate process begun by Trump officials, who invoked public-health law due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The legal fight over the deportation ban is an early sign of Republican opposition to Biden’s immigration priorities, just as Democrats and pro-immigrant legal groups fought Trump’s proposals. Almost four years before Tipton’s order, Trump signed a ban on travel from seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations that caused chaos at airports. Legal groups successfully sued to stop implementation of the ban.
It was not immediately clear if the Biden administration will appeal Tipton's latest ruling. The Justice Department did not seek a stay of Tipton's earlier temporary restraining order.