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Supreme Court Makes Decision On Republican AG’s Challenge To Biden Deportation Policy

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WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 18: U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas speaks during a hearing with the Senate Homeland Security Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on April 18, 2023 in Washington, DC. Mayorkas testified on the Department of Homeland Security's Fiscal Year 2024 budget request and took questions on a range of topics including the U.S. northern and southern borders.
Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images.

A challenge from Texas and Louisiana to President Joe Biden’s deportation policies was rejected by the Supreme Court in a decision released Friday. 

The suit, led by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, had hoped to overturn Biden’s deportation policy, which they argued violated federal law by focusing primarily on the deportation of those with criminal convictions or terrorist connections, and not by deporting all illegal immigrants regardless of criminal status. 

“They want a federal court to order the Executive Branch to alter its arrest policies so as to make more arrests,” Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in an 8-1 majority opinion. “Federal courts have not traditionally entertained that kind of lawsuit; indeed, the States cite no precedent for a lawsuit like this.”

Justice Samuel Alito argued that Texas did have standing to challenge the policy, saying that the majority opinion harmed the ability of the states to push back on executive authority. 

The decision, “holds that the only limit on the power of a President to disobey a law like the important provision at issue is Congress’s power to employ the weapons of inter-branch warfare — withholding funds, impeachment and removal, etc,” Alito wrote in his dissent. “I would simply apply settled law, which leads ineluctably to the conclusion that Texas has standing.”

Alito argued that the decision was “deeply flawed” and could prevent states from protecting their “vital interests.”

“If a President fails or refuses to enforce the immigration laws, the States must simply bear the consequences. That interpretation of executive authority and Article III’s case or controversy requirement is deeply and dangerously flawed,” he added. 

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The policy that prompted the suit was outlined in a September 2021 memorandum from Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

“The fact an individual is a removable noncitizen therefore should not alone be the basis of an enforcement action against them,” Mayorkas said, claiming that the DHS did not have the resources to deport everyone illegally entering the country. 

The memo was vacated by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit refused to put the ruling on hold while the Biden administration appealed the decision. The appeals court asked the Supreme Court to freeze the decision, but the high court ruled that the decision could stay in effect and agreed to hear the Biden administration’s challenge.

Arguments on the case were heard in November.

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