Federal Judge Strikes Down Biden ‘Catch-and- Release’ Policy
For more than two years, the Biden administration has considered immigration laws to be nothing more than suggestions, which they choose to ignore. The administration has repeatedly asserted that it wields virtually unlimited discretion in determining when and if to enforce immigration laws – which seems to be very rarely.
A lawsuit was brought by the State of Florida challenging the Biden administration’s catch-and-release policies under which migrants encountered illegally crossing our borders are quickly processed and allowed to enter the country. In many instances, the migrants being set free are not even given Notices to Appear (NTAs) for a hearing on their asylum claims.
On March 8, Federal District Court Judge Kent Wetherell issued a summary judgment in favor of Florida, which claimed that the Biden catch-and-release policies were imposing burdens and harming the interests of the state. Florida’s lawsuit was supported by a friend-of-the-court brief by the Immigration Reform Law Institute (IRLI), FAIR’s public interest law affiliate. In its brief, IRLI showed that contrary to the administration’s claim of virtually unfettered discretion, Congress very clearly and sharply limited the administration’s discretion when it mandated that illegal aliens be detained and removed from the country.
At the end of a four-day bench trial, Judge Wetherell clearly agreed. In a blistering 109- page opinion, the court harshly denounced Biden’s immigration policies, saying that his actions since January 20, 2021 “were akin to posting a flashing ‘Come In, We’re Open’ sign on the southern border,” and that Biden has “effectively turned the Southwest Border into a meaningless line in the sand and little more than a speed bump for aliens flooding into the country.”
The court gave the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) a week to appeal his ruling. In what appears to be a clear admission that the administration’s expansive catch-and-release policy does not have a legal leg to stand on, DOJ allowed the week to elapse without filing an appeal.
The ruling and DOJ’s inaction in response represents a huge victory for the interests of the American public and a stinging rebuke of the Biden administration’s policies. The degree to which the Biden administration complies with the court’s ruling remains to be seen. Past rulings ordering the reinstatement of laws they have asserted the discretion to ignore have, themselves, been largely ignored. In recent months, the administration has abused its very limited authority to parole aliens into the country as a way to circumvent legal bars to admission of large numbers of foreign nationals.