Supreme Court wrestles with Biden’s deportation policy

Nov 28, 2022, 7:04 AM | Updated: Nov 29, 2022, 9:07 pm
FILE - An immigrant considered a threat to public safety and national security waits to be processe...

FILE - An immigrant considered a threat to public safety and national security waits to be processed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents at the ICE Metropolitan Detention Center in Los Angeles, after an early morning raid, June 6, 2022. The Supreme Court is taking up a dispute over a blocked Biden administration policy that would prioritize deportation of people in the country illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

(AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court on Tuesday wrestled with a politically tinged dispute over a Biden administration policy that would prioritize deportation of people in the country illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk.

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 Republican-led states that have so far succeeded in blocking it.

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 in the country illegally regardless of criminal history or community ties.

On Tuesday, the administration’s top Supreme Court lawyer told the justices that federal law does “not create an unyielding mandate to apprehend and remove” every one of the more than 11 million immigrants living in the country illegally.

Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar said it would be “incredibly destabilizing on the ground” for the high court to require that. Congress has not given DHS enough money to vastly increase the number of people it holds and deports, the Biden administration has said.

But Texas Solicitor General Judd Stone told the court the administration is violating federal law that requires the detention and deportation of people who are in the U.S. illegally and who have been convicted of any serious crime, not just the most serious, specifically defined ones.

Chief Justice John Roberts was among the conservative justices who pushed back strongly on the Biden administration’s arguments. “It’s our job to say what the law is, not whether or not it can be possibly implemented or whether there are difficulties there, and I don’t think we should change that responsibility just because Congress and the executive can’t agree on something … I don’t think we should let them off the hook,” he said.

Yet Roberts, in questioning Stone, also called Prelogar’s argument compelling.

“It’s impossible for the executive to do what you want it to do, right?” Roberts asked.

Roberts wasn’t totally satisfied when Stone said the number of people potentially affected total 60,000 to 80,000.

Justice Brett Kavanaugh said that whatever the actual number, “the resources still aren’t there.”

The court’s three liberal justices, on the other hand, were sympathetic to the Biden administration’s arguments. Justice Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, made clear they believed that Texas and Louisiana, which joined Texas in suing over the directive, weren’t even entitled to bring their case.

The case is the latest example of a Republican litigation strategy that has succeeded in slowing Biden administration initiatives by going to GOP-friendly courts. Kagan picked up on that during arguments, saying that Texas could file its suit in a courthouse where it was guaranteed to get a sympathetic hearing and that one judge stopped “a federal immigration policy in its tracks.”

In a separate ongoing legal dispute, three judges chosen by then-President Donald Trump are among the four Republican-appointed judges who have so far prevented the administration’s student loan cancellation program from taking effect.

The states said they would face added costs of having to detain people the federal government might allow to remain free inside the United States, despite their criminal records.

Federal appeals courts had reached conflicting decisions over DHS guidance.

The federal appeals court in Cincinnati earlier overturned a district judge’s order that put the policy on hold in a lawsuit filed by Arizona, Ohio and Montana.

But in the separate suit filed by Texas and Louisiana, a federal judge in Texas ordered a nationwide halt to the guidance and a federal appellate panel in New Orleans declined to step in.

In July, the court voted 5-4 to leave the immigration policy frozen nationwide. Conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett joined the court’s three liberals in saying they would have allowed the Biden administration to put in place the guidance.

At the same time, the court said it would hear arguments in the case in late November.

The justices have several questions to sort through, whether the states should have been permitted to file their challenge in the first place, whether the policy violates immigration law and, if it does, whether it was appropriate for the Texas-based judge to block it.

On that last point, Prelogar said the judge’s decision to “vacate” the policy was wrong, and her argument questioned whether judges have been getting it all wrong for decades.

The issue touched a nerve, especially among Roberts, Kavanaugh and Ketanji Brown Jackson, the justices who once served on the federal appeals court in Washington that regularly vacates policies it determines are unlawful.

“Fairly radical,” Roberts said. “Pretty astonishing,” Kavanaugh said. Jackson, more restrained, also questioned Prelogar’s reasoning.

“There seems to be a kind of D.C. Circuit cartel,” Kagan joked.

A decision in U.S. v. Texas, 22-58, is expected by late June.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

FILE - John Lydon attends the LA premiere of "Punk" at SIR in Los Angeles, Monday, March 4, 2019. P...
Associated Press

Punk icon Lydon fails in bid to play Eurovision Song Contest

LONDON (AP) — Punk icon John Lydon has failed in his attempt to become Ireland’s entry for the pop music competition the Eurovision Song Contest. The former Sex Pistols frontman entered the song “Hawaii” with his post-punk band Public Image Ltd. in the national runoff for May’s continent-wide contest. Jurors and viewers of a televised […]
1 day ago
A woman lights up the road with a flashlight during blackout in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 3, 2023...
Associated Press

Dozens of soldiers freed in Russia-Ukraine prisoner swap

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Dozens of Russian and Ukrainian prisoners of war have returned home following a prisoner swap, officials on both sides said Saturday. Top Ukrainian presidential aide Andriy Yermak said in a Telegram post that 116 Ukrainians were freed. He said the released POWs include troops who held out in Mariupol during Moscow’s […]
1 day ago
FILE - The British frigate HMS Portland heads through the Suez canal, in Ismailia, Egypt Wednesday,...
Associated Press

Royal Navy sailors hospitalized after drinking water on ship

LONDON (AP) — A Royal Navy warship has returned to port in Britain after several sailors got sick from the vessel’s drinking water, officials said Saturday The navy said frigate HMS Portland had returned to its base at Portsmouth on England’s south coast on Friday “as a precautionary measure, following an issue with one of […]
1 day ago
FILE - An American flag is flown next to the Chinese national emblem during a welcome ceremony at t...
Associated Press

China plays down Blinken’s canceled visit over balloon

TAIPEI, Taiwan (AP) — China played down the cancellation of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken after a large Chinese balloon suspected of conducting surveillance on U.S. military sites roiled diplomatic relations, saying that neither side had formally announced any such plan. “In actuality, the U.S. and China have never announced any […]
1 day ago
Associated Press

Ohio train derailment causes causes fire, home evacuations

EAST PALESTINE, Ohio (AP) — A train derailed in an Ohio town near the Pennsylvania border and caused a large fire followed by orders for area residents to evacuate their homes Friday night, reports said. A post on the East Palestine, Ohio, city Facebook page around 11 p.m. said an evacuation order had been issued […]
1 day ago
Pope Francis meets with a group of the Catholic faithful from the town of Rumbek, who had walked fo...
Associated Press

Pope encourages South Sudanese, will raise plight of women

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Pope Francis sought Saturday to console the long-suffering people of South Sudan as he opened his first full day in a country beset by conflict, poverty and humanitarian crises by encouraging priests and nuns to serve their flocks by joining in their tears. After arriving in the world’s newest country […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

safety from crime...

As crime increases, our safety measures must too

It's easy to be accused of fearmongering regarding crime, but Seattle residents might have good reason to be concerned for their safety.
Comcast Ready for Business Fund...
Ilona Lohrey | President and CEO, GSBA

GSBA is closing the disparity gap with Ready for Business Fund

GSBA, Comcast, and other partners are working to address disparities in access to financial resources with the Ready for Business fund.
SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Supreme Court wrestles with Biden’s deportation policy