Suing Over ‘Surge’ Memo, Texas Fights Deportation Pause

During its 100-day pause on deportations, the Biden administration is pledging to “surge resources to the border in order to ensure safe, legal and orderly processing.”

A Department of Homeland Security (DHS) memo, issued on Inauguration Day, outlined the suspension of deportations and listed a series of steps to ensure that “the department’s mission [is]in line with our values.”

Citing “unique circumstances,” the memorandum said DHS “must surge resources to the border … to rebuild fair and effective asylum procedures that respect human rights and due process, to adopt appropriate public health guidelines and protocols, and to prioritize responding to threats to national security, public safety, and border security.”

But forecasting another type of border surge from the south, officials in Texas were unimpressed by the federal government’s move, and they’re suing.

“In one of its first of dozens of steps that harm Texas and the nation as a whole, the Biden administration directed DHS to violate federal immigration law and breach an agreement to consult and cooperate with Texas on that law,” state Attorney General Ken Paxton said in filing a lawsuit against the administration. The Jan. 8 agreement, according to the lawsuit, says DHS must give Texas 180 days notice before taking action.

“Our state defends the largest section of the southern border in the nation. Failure to properly enforce the law will directly and immediately endanger our citizens and law enforcement personnel,” Paxton asserted.

Biden’s suspension of Migrant Protection Protocols that required asylum seekers to remain in Mexico could unleash a chaotic spillover at the border. Meantime, the deportation pause handcuffs removal efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Jessica Vaughn of the Center for Immigration Studies said, “The DHS memo gives the impression that ICE and other enforcement officers will be sent to help out at the southwest border as part of a ‘surge’ of resources, but instead they are being told to sit on their hands and not do their jobs.”

Texas’s lawsuit warns: “If left unchallenged, DHS could re-assert this suspension power for a longer period or even indefinitely, effectively granting a blanket amnesty to illegal aliens that Congress has refused to pass time and time again. The Constitution, controlling statutes and prior executive pledges prevent a seismic change to this country’s immigration laws merely by memorandum.”

U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton in Victoria, Texas, heard arguments on the state’s request for a temporary restraining order. Tipton, a Donald Trump appointee, said he would issue a decision later.

Update: On Tuesday, Judge Tipton issued a temporary restraining order blocking DHS from enforcing its 100-day deportation moratorium. Tipton said the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification” for the pause.

About Author


Bob Dane, the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR)'s Executive Director, has been with FAIR since 2006. His deep belief is that immigration is the most transformational determinant of where we are heading as a nation and that our policies must be reformed in the public interest. Over many years on thousands of radio, TV and print interviews, Bob has made the case that unless immigration is regulated and sensibly reduced, it will be difficult for America to reduce unemployment, increase wages, improve health care and education and heighten national security. Prior to joining FAIR, Bob spent twenty years in network radio, marketing and communications after an earlier career in policy and budgeting within the Reagan Administration. Bob has a degree from George Mason University in Public Administration and Management.

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