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Supreme Court Hears Arguments on Biden Administration Immigration Enforcement Policy

NBC Dallas 11/30/2022 Julie Fine and Mark Sherman
A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building on the first day of the court’s new term in Washington, U.S. October 3, 2022.  © Provided by NBC Dallas

A view of the U.S. Supreme Court building on the first day of the court’s new term in Washington, U.S. October 3, 2022. 

The nine Supreme Court justices heard arguments Tuesday from both the Biden Administration and attorneys from Texas and Louisiana, regarding an immigration enforcement policy that the two states successfully sued to block. 

It was not clear after arguments that stretched past two hours and turned highly contentious at times whether the justices would allow the policy to take effect, or side with Texas and Louisiana.

At the center of the case is a September 2021 directive from the Department of Homeland Security that paused deportations unless individuals had committed acts of terrorism, espionage or “egregious threats to public safety.” The guidance, issued after Joe Biden became president, updated a Trump-era policy that removed people who were in the country illegally regardless of criminal history or community ties.

On Tuesday, U.S. Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar argued, “There are more than 11 million removable non-citizens in this country and DHS has about 6,000 interior enforcement officers. To focus the agency's limited resources on threats to public safety, national security, and border security, DHS adopted enforcement priorities.“

But Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone told the court that the administration violated federal law requiring the detention of people who are in the U.S. illegally and who have been convicted of serious crimes, and also said, “As this court has recognized before, the states bear many of the consequences of federal immigration decisions.

Immigration attorney Eric Cedillo said judges are looking at several issues.

“They are asking for three specific things. Whether or not, of course, the states have the standing to bring a lawsuit based on the immigration situation that they have. Second, whether the policy that Mayorkas had in place in terms of the priorities was in comportment with immigration law, and third, whether or not the judge, Judge Timpton, had the ability to vacate the prioritization by Mayorkas,” said Cedillo.

Cedillo said since there is a stay in the case, the ruling could come in weeks, as opposed to months.

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