SCOTUS Gives White House a Big Win on Immigration

Justices say GOP-led states lacked standing to sue over who should get deported
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 23, 2023 10:50 AM CDT
SCOTUS Gives Thumbs-Up to Biden's Deportation Plan
The US Supreme Court on June 13, on Capitol Hill in Washington.   (AP Photo/Mariam Zuhaib, file)

The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a Republican-led challenge to a Biden administration policy that prioritizes the deportation of immigrants who are deemed to pose the greatest risk to public safety. The justices voted 8-1 to allow the long-blocked policy to take effect, recognizing there is not enough money or manpower to deport all 11 million or so people who are in the United States illegally, per the AP. The New York Times called it a "major victory" for the White House. "If the court greenlighted this suit," Justice Brett Kavanaugh wrote in the majority opinion, "we could anticipate complaints in future years about alleged executive branch under-enforcement of any similarly worded laws— whether they be drug laws, gun laws, obstruction of justice laws or the like. We decline to start the federal judiciary down that uncharted path."

At the center of the case is a September 2021 directive from the Department of Homeland Security that paused deportations unless individuals had committed acts of terrorism, espionage, or "egregious threats to public safety." The guidance, issued after Joe Biden became president, updated a Trump-era policy to remove people who were in the country illegally, regardless of criminal history or community ties. Louisiana and Texas had argued that federal immigration law requires authorities to detain and expel those in the US illegally even if they pose little or no risk. "The States essentially want the Federal Judiciary to order the Executive Branch to alter its arrest policy so as to make more arrests," Kavanaugh complained, per the Hill.

Louisiana and Texas claimed in their lawsuit that they would face added costs of having to detain people the federal government might allow to remain free inside the United States, despite their criminal records. In Friday's decision, Kavanaugh's opinion spoke for just five justices, including Chief Justice John Roberts and the three liberals. Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil Gorsuch, and Amy Coney Barrett agreed with the outcome for other reasons. Justice Samuel Alito filed a solo dissent, writing that the decision improperly favors the president over Congress. "And it renders states already laboring under the effects of massive illegal immigration even more helpless," Alito wrote. (More US Supreme Court stories.)

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