SCOTUS declines Biden request to resume controversial immigration guidlines

President Joe Biden suffered yet another setback at the United States Supreme Court this week when, on Thursday, the panel denied an administration request to resume a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration policy that a federal district court in Texas had already halted, as The Hill reports.

Rather than allowing the policy – which instructed Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers to prioritize only the arrest of migrants deemed a threat to public safety and national security – to be restarted, the panel left the lower court’s block in place pending a full hearing on the merits, which is slated to take place at the high court this December.

The guidance at issue was promulgated by DHS last September, and it informed immigration officers in border areas that they should prioritize particular kinds of illegals for removal, focusing on public safety and national security and instructing them to perform a more nuanced – arguably lenient – assessment of those thought not to pose certain types of concerns.

In announcing the shift last fall, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas declared, “For the first time, our guidelines will, in the pursuit of public safety, require an assessment of the individual and take into account the totality of the facts and circumstances,” a marked departure from the more comprehensive approach championed by the administration of former President Donald Trump.

Mayorkas’ directive spurred lawsuits from states such as Texas and Louisiana, and last month, a federal judge sided with plaintiffs in declaring the policy unlawful stopping its implementation, saying that the DHS guidelines saddled affected states with added costs of education, healthcare, and other services for immigrants and disregarded a host of federal laws pertaining to deportation orders.

Once the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals declined to intervene, the matter was taken to the Supreme Court, which produced Thursday’s outcome in a 5-4 vote, as the Texas Tribune noted.

In seeking the high court’s intervention, the Biden administration contended that the lower court’s judgment “is thwarting the Secretary’s direction of the Department he leads and disrupting DHS’s efforts to focus its limited resources on the noncitizens who pose the gravest threat to national security, public safety, and the integrity of our Nation’s borders,” but those arguments proved insufficiently persuasive.

Interestingly, the four members of the court who would have allowed the administration to resume implementation of its new guidance pending conclusion of the litigation included all of the panel’s female members, including Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, as well as conservative jurist Justice Amy Coney Barrett, though no reasoning was given by either the majority or the dissenters for their respective positions on the matter.

A hearing in the case before the Supreme Court has been scheduled for the first week in December, and whether the administration is, in the end, allowed to resume pursuit of this particular facet of the dangerous, open borders strategies that have produced an unprecedented crisis at our nation’s southern border, only time will tell.