Texas drops challenge to Biden admin.'s deportation moratorium

3 minute read

Single-adult male detainees wait along a fence inside a Border Patrol station in McAllen, Texas, U.S. July 12, 2019. REUTERS/Veronica G. Cardenas

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
  • Federal judge blocked moratorium in February
  • DHS has said it will not extend the freeze, which expired in April

(Reuters) - The Texas attorney general's office has agreed to drop a lawsuit over the federal government's 100-day freeze on deportations after the policy expired and the Biden administration said it had no plans to extend or reinstate it, according to a court filing.

Lawyers for Texas, the administration and two advocacy groups that intervened to defend the January moratorium filed a joint stipulation of dismissal in Victoria, Texas federal court on Thursday.

In January, four days after the lawsuit was filed, U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton issued a temporary restraining order that blocked the policy nationwide for 14 days. Tipton then granted Texas a preliminary injunction in February.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security announced on May 6 that it would not extend the moratorium.

DHS did not respond to a request for comment. Nor did the office of Texas AG Ken Paxton and the American Civil Liberties Union, which represents the intervenors.

DHS in issuing the moratorium said it would enable the department to better deal with "operational challenges" at the U.S.-Mexico border during the COVID-19 pandemic.

But Paxton's office in the lawsuit said Texas would face irreparable harm if the deportation freeze was allowed to go into effect. Paxton, a Republican, said it would increase education and healthcare costs as more immigrants remained in Texas illegally.

The state also claimed the moratorium against the terms of an enforcement agreement Texas brokered with the Trump administration less than two weeks before President Joe Biden took office.

Tipton in blocking the moratorium said Texas was likely to succeed on at least two of its claims, including that the deportation freeze violated a federal immigration law stating that authorities "shall remove" immigrants with final deportation orders within 90 days.

The moratorium was also challenged on similar grounds in a lawsuit by the Florida attorney general's office. A federal judge in Tampa on Tuesday declined to issue a preliminary injunction, saying the challenge was moot because the 100-day freeze expired in late April. The AG's office is appealing that decision.

The case is Texas v. United States of America, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, No. 6:21-cv-00003.

For Texas: Deputy Attorney General Patrick Sweeten

For the administration: Adam Kirschner of the U.S. Department of Justice

For the intervenors: Cody Wofsy of the American Civil Liberties Union

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Thomson Reuters

Dan Wiessner (@danwiessner) reports on labor and employment and immigration law, including litigation and policy making. He can be reached at daniel.wiessner@thomsonreuters.com.