Houston: Joe Biden's 100-day moratorium on deportations, ordered by his predecessor Donald Trump, has hit a road block. A federal judge late Tuesday has barred the US administration from enforcing the 100-day pause of most deportations.
In response to a plea by the state of Texas, US District Judge Drew Tipton issued a preliminary injunction, granting the argument that Biden administration's pause violated federal law and risked imposing additional costs on the state.
During his campaign, Democratic candidate Biden proposed the 100-day moratorium, as part of a larger review of immigration enforcement and in an attempt to overturn the priorities of former President Donald Trump.
Biden's move came pending a thorough overhaul of the immigration process with a bill that provides for the legalisation of an estimated 11 million people living in the US without documents.
Tipton, a Trump appointee, initially had ruled on January 26 that the moratorium violated federal law on administrative procedure and that the US failed to show sufficient reasons for the pause of deportation. The interim restraining order was to expire on Tuesday and that has been made indefinite through the latest judicial decision.
Tipton's ruling did not require deportations to resume at their previous pace. Even without a moratorium, immigration agencies have wide latitude in enforcing removals and processing cases.
But in the days that followed his ruling, there were 15 cases of deportation to Jamaica and hundreds to Central America. The Biden administration has also continued expelling immigrants under a separate process begun by Trump officials, who invoked public-health law due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The legal battle on the deportation issue marks the beginning of a tussle between the Republics and Democrats since Biden's inauguration, easily focussed on the subject of immigration. In a way it is a converse of Democrats' stiff opposition to Trump's largely anti-immigrant policies.
Soon after his inauguration, Trump signed a ban on travel from seven countries with predominantly Muslim populations that caused chaos at airports. Legal groups successfully sued to stop implementation of the ban.
In the light of the latest court decision, it is not clear if the Biden administration will appeal Judge Tipton's ruling, but significantly, the current administration had not asked for a stay the earlier temporary ban of implementation of Biden's decision.