Appeals Court Blocks Biden Admin’s Bid to Release Illegal Immigrants Into US Without Court Dates

Appeals Court Blocks Biden Admin’s Bid to Release Illegal Immigrants Into US Without Court Dates
Illegal immigrants wait for a bus to take them to a processing center after turning themselves over to U.S. Border Patrol officials in Fronton, Texas, on May 12, 2023. (Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP via Getty Images)

A federal court has denied a request by President Joe Biden’s administration to continue releasing illegal border crossers into the U.S. without court dates.

Last month, the state of Florida sued to stop the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) policy known as “parole with conditions.” The policy allowed border officials to release illegal border crossers into the United States with the expectation that those individuals would self-report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) facility to initiate their removal proceedings. Florida argued the “parole with conditions” policy is virtually identical to another policy called “parole plus alternatives to detention” (Parole+ATD) which a Florida federal court struck down in March.

Judge T. Kent Wetherell II, of Florida’s Northern federal court district, issued a temporary restraining order blocking border officials from continuing with the “parole with conditions” policy. Wetherell later expanded the temporary restraining order into a longer-lasting preliminary injunction. The Biden administration subsequently appealed Wetherell’s decision to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, but a three-judge panel denied the appeal in a Monday decision (pdf).

The Biden administration argued that it must be able to continue releasing illegal immigrants to avoid the over-crowding CBP facilities, which they said could threaten the “health, safety, and security” of detainees and border officials. The administration argued that overcrowding would, in the worst-case scenarios, prevent border officials from apprehending some border crossers altogether.

The judges on the 11th Circuit Court panel rejected those DHS arguments as unconvincing, given it’s representations of claims of harm following past court decisions.

“To start, DHS’s claims of irreparable injury ring somewhat hollow on this record, considering the department’s track record of overstating similar threats in the underlying proceedings,” appeals court judges wrote. “For instance, on January 12, 2023, DHS represented to the district court that any vacatur of the Parole+ATD policy would result in ‘disastrous consequences’ for the management of the border starting the very next day. … But, in truth, CBP had stopped using the Parole+ATD practices as of January 2, 2023, and DHS now admits that it was able to ‘manage its detention capacity [since January] using many other tools at its disposal.’”

Post-Title 42 Claims

In addition to rejecting the Biden administration’s arguments that blocking the “parole with conditions” policy would lead to overcrowding, the judges also said some of the Biden administration’s own recent claims about traffic at the southern border cut against their claims that they could be overwhelmed without the parole policy.

After the outbreak of COVID-19, President Donald Trump’s administration invoked Title 42 in order to rapidly turn away and expel border crossers under public health justifications. Title 42 authorities expired on May 11 and the Biden administration returned to the regular expulsion process.

Many border communities braced for a potential surge in border crossings after Title 42 ended, but after three days DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas indicated no signs of a surge and even claimed a significant drop in border crossings.

“Over the past two days, the United States Border Patrol has experienced a 50 percent drop in the number of encounters versus what we were experiencing earlier in the week before Title 42 ended at midnight on Thursday,” Mayorkas told CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “It is still early. We are in day three. But we have been planning for this transition for months and months.”

Florida Celebrates Court Win

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who led the initial legal challenge against the “parole with conditions” policy, celebrated the appeals court decision on Monday.

“The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals has refused to disturb an injunction Florida obtained against a Biden policy allowing the mass release of illegal immigrants into the country,” Moody said. “Protecting our border is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of our president, and Florida will not allow Joe Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to continue putting American lives at risk in clear violation of federal law.”

The Biden administration could try to overturn the 11th Circuit Court’s decision with an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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