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Federal judge in Texas throws out Biden administration immigration enforcement guidelines

Last year, the Department of Homeland Security released guidelines that directed Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to arrest immigrants deemed public safety or national security risks and recent border crossers. Friday’s ruling throws out those guidelines, marking the latest legal setback for the Biden administration on immigration.

The ruling takes effect in seven days.

Judge Drew Tipton of the Texas Southern District Court found that while the federal government has discretion, the guidelines bind officials in a “generalized, prospective manner.”

“True, the Executive Branch has case-by-case discretion to abandon immigration enforcement as to a particular individual. This case, however, does not involve individualized decisionmaking. Instead, this case is about a rule that binds Department of Homeland Security officials in a generalized, prospective manner—all in contravention of Congress’s detention mandate,” wrote Tipton, a Donald Trump appointee.

The ruling stems from a lawsuit brought by the states of Texas and Louisiana. The case concerns a provision in immigration law that says undocumented immigrants who committed crimes will be taken into ICE custody after they are released. The Biden administration’s memo sought to prioritize ICE’s resources on detaining undocumented immigrants based on the nature of the crimes they had committed.

Tipton previously ruled against a January interim memo that curtailed enforcement measures. The latest ruling concerns similar guidelines issued last September.

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