When President Joe Biden entered office in January 2021, he immediately began to end the strict border security and immigration law enforcement policies of his predecessor and reinstituted the far less strict “catch and release” policy that his predecessor had ended.
The state of Florida filed a lawsuit to challenge the Biden administration’s “non-detention policy” — specifically the broad use of parole and alternatives to detention — and just won that case in a federal district court, the New York Post reported.
The judge ruled that the Biden policies in question were unlawful and vacated them, but issued a seven-day stay on his own ruling in order to allow time for the administration’s inevitable appeal of the decision.
Border is now “little more than a speedbump”
In a searing 109-page opinion, District Judge T. Kent Wetherell II, a Trump appointee, took President Biden’s Department of Homeland Security to task for its near complete abdication of its duties under the law to detain illegal aliens apprehended at the border and begin the process of removal.
Instead, based on a series of policy memos over the past two years, DHS has shifted from only using parole and detention alternatives in limited circumstances to now only using the legally mandated detention in limited circumstances.
The court sided with Florida because “the evidence establishes that Defendants have effectively turned the Southwest Border into a meaningless line in the sand and little more than a speedbump for aliens flooding into the country by prioritizing ‘alternatives to detention’ over actual detention and by releasing more than a million aliens into the country — on ‘parole’ or pursuant to the exercise of ‘prosecutorial discretion’ under a wholly inapplicable statute — without even initiating removal proceedings.”
That assessment was bolstered by the clearly evident differences in the relevant figures regarding detentions and releases in a comparison of the Trump and Biden administrations.
As for the current administration’s apparent aversion to detaining illicit border crossers, Judge Wetherell wrote, “There is nothing inherently inhumane or cruel about detaining aliens pending completion of their immigration proceedings,” and added, “Detention is the surest way to ensure that an alien will not abscond pending completion of their immigration proceedings.”
Biden’s “Come In, We’re Open” sign at the border
With regard to the Biden administration’s initial policy changes in early 2021, Judge Wetherell wrote, “Collectively, these actions were akin to posting a flashing ‘Come In, We’re Open’ sign on the southern border,” which quite predictably sparked a surge in illegal border crossings that have not abated and have only increased over time.
He also knocked the administration for its deliberate reduction in detention capacity, which it has then used as justification for the increased use of parole and ATD releases, and likened it to “a child who kills his parents and then seeks pity for being an orphan,” or complaining about being overwhelmed while purposefully having “one hand tied behind their back.”
Wetherell further characterized the overt policy shift as going from “‘release only if there is a compelling reason to’ to ‘release unless there is a compelling reason not to.'”
In the end, the judge concluded, “In sum, for the reasons stated above, the Court finds that (1) the Non-Detention Policy exists but is not discrete ‘agency action’ that is subject to judicial review under the APA — although if it was, it would be subject to vacatur because it contravenes the INA; and (2) the Parole+ATD Policy is unlawful and is due to be vacated under the APA.”
Biden’s non-detention immigration policies are unlawful
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) issued a news release to highlight Judge Wetherell’s ruling that President Biden’s tacit “catch and release” policy is unlawful and must be vacated by DHS — of course, pending the inevitable appeals process.
“Today’s ruling affirms what we have known all along, President Biden is responsible for the border crisis and his unlawful immigration policies make this country less safe,” Moody said. “A federal judge is now ordering Biden to follow the law, and his administration should immediately begin securing the border to protect the American people.”