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NIJC Calls on Administration to Avoid Permanent Harm to Families and Asylum Seekers by Continuing to  Exercise Discretion to Uphold Justice and Human Rights

CHICAGO (January 26, 2021) -- Today, only days after the Biden administration announced an urgently needed 100-day deportation moratorium, a federal judge in Texas issued an unjust and legally unsound decision temporarily blocking a portion of the president’s plan to pause deportations, which the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) had laid out in a January 20 memo.

NIJC Executive Director Mary Meg McCarthy responded to the order with the following statement:

“The Texas court’s decision is based on a faulty interpretation of the law and racist arguments akin to those which drove the very decisions in the previous administration that President Biden’s moratorium policy was intended to review. Already, we are seeing signs that the anti-immigrant sentiment which defined U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during the past four years is still present. Today, we learned that our client Mariana, an asylum seeker who has been detained and separated from her children since she crossed the border in 2019, already was being staged for deportation. We are urgently calling on the Biden administration to use its discretion to stop the deportations of Mariana and countless others who find themselves once again in jeopardy due to a decision by one Texas judge.”

While the decision from the judge poses an immediate threat to some people, it is limited in its application and its duration:

  • It applies only to individuals who already have a final order of removal.
  • It is currently in effect for at least 14 days, but its duration and scope may change as the case progresses.
  • It does not prevent any other portions of the DHS memo from being enacted. This means that the Biden administration’s interim enforcement priorities setting limits on who can be detained will still go into effect on February 1 and remain in place during the 100-day period, and that the Trump administration’s 2017 Executive Order regarding interior enforcement is still rescinded.
  • Nothing in the decision forces ICE to deport people, nor does it prevent the agency from deciding to release individuals with final orders who can still apply to stay their deportation.

Despite this temporary setback, NIJC urges the administration to continue its work toward realizing the promise offered by the moratorium, including taking steps toward ending immigration detention, unjust enforcement, and the police-to-deportation pipeline and rebuilding a welcoming asylum system.