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The Supreme Court Upholds The Biden Administration’s Deportation Prioritization Policy

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has once again weighed in on the seemingly never-ending immigration policy saga. Two days ago, the Supreme Court of the United States turned down a challenge led by the Republican opposition. The motion was a challenge against an immigration policy from President Biden and his administration.

About the Policy in Question

The policy being challenged by Republicans made high-risk immigrants or those recently caught at the borders the focus of deportation. It was a directive from the DHS in September 2021 that instructed officials to cut back on deportations except for the most dangerous individuals. Nearly a year ago, the Biden administration requested that the Supreme Court weigh in on the policy. The result was a narrow majority vote to continue the stop order on the policy.

The policy instructed federal agents to focus on people who were suspected terrorists, spies, or threats to members of the public. It is not a policy that encourages illegal immigration or gives illegal immigrants in the country free rein. President Biden’s administration is simply being pragmatic. By most counts, there are well over 10 million illegal immigrants currently residing in the United States. Going after all of them is nigh impossible, but focusing on illegal immigrants who can be considered dangerous is not a bad idea.

The Supreme Court's Ruling

In a nearly unanimous verdict, the Supreme Court removed the restrictions on the policy, finally allowing its implementation. The Court acknowledged the constraints faced by the government concerning undocumented individuals residing in the United States. For the judges, the work did not stop there. That policy blockage was just one of two immigration-related topics on the docket on Friday. The second ruling concerned affirming a federal directive that helped law enforcement charge people who helped illegal immigrants.

Concerning the deportation lawsuit, the prosecutors were attorneys from the states of Louisiana and Texas. The argument was that states had the authority to search for and detain illegal immigrants. It did not matter whether they were a danger to people or not. The Supreme Court ruled that states did not even have any right to bring the Administration before a judge in the first place. The Court is of the opinion that President Biden can exercise his executive powers in such a way due to the limitations in resources and personnel.

The Judges Explain Their Verdict

Justice Brett Kavanaugh, writing the majority opinion, emphasized that the executive branch must prioritize enforcement efforts due to limited resources. He also stressed the need to address the evolving public safety and welfare concerns of the American people. Kavanaugh noted that it is simply not feasible to arrest and prosecute all violators of every law.

Support for the Decision

The Secretary of the DHS, Alejandro Mayorkas, welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling. He said that it enables immigration officers to allocate limited resources and enforcement actions toward the worst people. That is, individuals who are actually dangerous to the security and safety of citizens.

The Tip of the Iceberg

At face value, this entire case might seem like authorities at the state level merely voicing their uncertainties about certain federal policies. However, a closer inspection of political happenings reveals that this is the latest in a series of Republican-led efforts to curb President Biden. Many of the cases filed have been about immigration policy, but not all of them. Republican attorneys at the state level have taken every opportunity to bring the Biden administration and its policies before Republican-leaning courts. They have been looking for favorable rulings to hamstring President Biden, including from the highest court in the country.

In this case, the argument from Louisiana and Texas attorneys was that it would be expensive for states to handle immigrants left by federal agents. Last year, a Texas federal judge issued an order to cease following the directive at the national level. An appeal brought before a panel in Louisiana declined to give a verdict. Even before that, an appeals court in Ohio repealed an order that stopped the implementation of the policy. That order came from another district judge and affected Ohio as well as Arizona and Montana.

Separate Immigration-Related Decision

In addition to the deportation prioritization case, there was another immigration-related case on the docket. The Supreme Court also made a ruling in support of a federal law that prosecutes individuals who aid illegal immigrants. It concerned a certain Mr. Hansen of California, who gave out ‘adult adoptions’. He asserted that these adoptions granted citizenship to the recipients. Nearly 500 people had paid the man anywhere from a few hundred to ten thousand dollars for ‘adoption’. The justices merely reinforced the sentence already in place against Mr. Hansen. He was sentenced based on a law that made encouraging or enticing immigrants to come out and stay illegally a crime. A crime that was punishable by up to 5 years in prison. The court rejected an appeals court ruling that the law is overly broad and unconstitutional, thus upholding its constitutionality.

While these rulings have received support from many officials, they have also received some criticism. If anything, these decisions highlight the ongoing complexities still plaguing immigration policy in the United States.

28 June 2023
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