Court Battles

Supreme Court denies Biden bid to revive DHS immigration policy

The Supreme Court on Thursday rejected a Biden administration request to reinstate a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) immigration enforcement policy that was blocked by a lower court, with the justices scheduling the case for arguments in December.

The court’s vote was 5-4, with four members — liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Ketanji Brown Jackson and Elena Kagan and conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett — indicating they would have sided with the administration by temporarily blocking the lower court order as the case plays out.

At issue is DHS guidance from last September that directed immigration officers to prioritize certain groups of undocumented immigrants for deportation over others, with a focus on those who pose a threat to public safety or national security. The policy also directed officers to make a more comprehensive assessment of noncitizens before proceeding with an arrest or removal.

The policy drew several lawsuits, including a challenge by Texas and Louisiana that secured a legal victory in the lower courts.

A Trump-appointed U.S. judge in Texas sided with the challengers last month, vacating the DHS policy after concluding it failed to follow federal immigration law. The Biden administration was rebuffed when it asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to block the district court’s judgment, prompting the administration’s request to the Supreme Court.

“That 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,” the administration told the justices in court papers.

The Supreme Court’s order Thursday denying the administration’s stay request also treated its court filing as a formal petition for appeal, which the justices granted. The court scheduled the case for a hearing for the first week of December, the third month of the court’s next term.

It was the first time Jackson, the newest justice, has had her name appear on a Supreme Court order.

—Updated at 7:05 p.m.

Tags Amy Coney Barrett Biden Immigration immigration policy Ketanji Brown Jackson Supreme Court
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