Court mulls restraining order over deportations memo

A decision on a temporary restraining order could come early this week in the state of Texas’ lawsuit against the federal government to end a pause on deportations of certain noncitizens.

During a Monday morning hearing before U.S. District Judge Drew B. Tipton, both representatives from the state of Texas and the federal government appeared in a videoconference for a hearing related to a lawsuit the state filed Friday.

The lawsuit requests the courts rule that the Biden administration’s new memo putting a 100-day pause on deportations for certain noncitizens, is unlawful and should eliminate it — because, at least in part, it violates a memorandum of understanding signed between certain jurisdictions and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security just days before President Joe Biden was inaugurated.

The lawsuit refers to a pledge made by the Trump administration with Texas, Arizona, Louisiana, Indiana, and Rockingham County, in North Carolina, last week — five days before Biden took office — that required DHS to provide 180-day written notice before enacting immigration policy changes.

The 100-day moratorium on deportations memo for certain noncitizens was signed last week.

Biden similarly signed multiple immigration-related executive orders, including a pause on border wall construction funded by a Trump February 2019 emergency declaration, and a robust plan for a pathway to citizenship for millions of undocumented persons, also last week.

In its filing against the government, Texas claims “when DHS fails to remove illegal aliens in compliance with federal law, Texas faces significant costs,” and irreparable harm, the court document stated.

During the hearing Monday, the government reiterated its claims against the lawsuit, stating among other things that the memorandum of understanding is unenforceable, that it no longer has standing because it was signed days before the new administration took over, and that Texas has failed to outline specific “harm” to the state — all reasons the government states for the court to deny the TRO.

The government representative said during the hearing that no noncitizen that was covered by the 100-day pause on deportations was released over the weekend as it waited for a decision from the court in relation to the lawsuit.

Tipton also asked the government for specific data, including how many people are present with final deportation orders in detention and outside of custody, the percentage of people who are released on final deportation orders who are removed, who remain in the country, and who fail to appear for required “check-ins.”

The government also addressed information entered into the record in a Monday filing by the plaintiff that a “news network claimed” (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement) was releasing noncitizens from Texas.

The government stated ICE did release a group from Texas but the group members did not meet the criteria for the 100-day deportation pause — that they were part of a certified class in separate litigation.

Roughly an hour after it began, the brief hearing concluded with Tipton stating he would work on the TRO motion filed by Texas. A decision is expected this week.