A federal judge has imposed a preliminary injunction on the Biden administration’s ‘parole with conditions’ policy – dealing yet another blow to the policy which saw illegal migrants being released into the U.S. interior without a court date in an attempt to reduce overcrowding at Border Patrol facilities.
Judge T. Kent Wetherell had imposed a two-week temporary restraining order on the ‘parole with conditions’ policy on Thursday, after he accepted arguments from the state of Florida that the policy – outlined in a May 10 memo – was materially identical to a ‘Parole + ATD’ policy that he had blocked in March.
The two-week restraining order, which the White House decried as ‘sabotage,’ came hours before the end of the Title 42 public health order, and gave the court time to weigh arguments about whether a longer-term preliminary injunction could be imposed.
Wetherell found, in an order on Tuesday, that ‘Florida is entitled to a preliminary injunction prohibiting DHS from ‘paroling’ aliens into the country under the Parole with Conditions policy.’
He said that the order is in the public interest as it would ‘promote respect for the rule of law by not allowing DHS to achieve what amounts to an end-run around this Court’s decision in Florida through the adoption of a functionally identical policy to the Parole + ATD invalidated in that case.’ He also found that the injunction is necessary to prevent harm to Florida, which had argued it would be negatively affected by a mass release of migrants – some of whom would travel to Florida.
He granted the injunction and ordered both parties to file a status report in two weeks explaining how they intend to proceed with the case, pending resolution of an expected appeal by DHS.
The Department of Homeland Security had argued that the court does not have the authority to enjoin the policy, and had warned about chaotic scenes and overcrowding at the border if the administration was not allowed to use the policy to reduce overcrowding.
The policy, outlined in a Border Patrol memo, outlined how migrants can be allowed into the country on parole – a process typically reserved for ‘urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit’ – if Customs and Border Protection (CBP) faces overcrowding. Migrants released under the policy are required to make an appointment with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or request a Notice to Appear by mail. The use of parole had been authorized if a sector capacity goes above 125%, if agents apprehend 7,000 a day over 72 hours or if average time in custody goes above 60 hours.
It had been adopted in a May 10 memo just as authorities were seeing over 10,000 migrants a day ahead of the ending of the Title 42 public health order. Numbers have dropped since the ending of the order, which allowed for the rapid expulsion of migrants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who brought the suit, said in a statement on Tuesday that the case ‘continues to prove what Florida has been arguing all along, that Biden willfully and intentionally destroyed our public safety immigration structures ahead of the expiration of Title 42, and now the federal government is allowing the crush of immigrants attempting to enter the country unlawfully to flood across our border.’
‘I am grateful that this judge is taking swift action to prevent the federal government from violating immigration law and mass-releasing illegal immigrants into the interior of the country,’ she said.
The Biden administration had said in a filing on Monday that it had released over 6,000 migrants into the interior on Thursday before the order went into effect, and an additional 2,500+ on Friday who had completed the parole process before the order went into effect. However, it has firmly denied claims that it is engaged in the ‘mass release’ of migrants.
DHS had said it would comply with the ruling but, called it harmful and warned that it would ‘result in unsafe overcrowding at CBP facilities and undercut our ability to efficiently process and remove migrants, and risks creating dangerous conditions for Border Patrol agents and migrants.’
‘The fact remains that when overcrowding has occurred in Border Patrol facilities, Republican and Democratic Administrations alike have used this parole authority to protect the safety and security of migrants and the workforce,’ a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statement said on Friday. ‘Individuals apprehended by CBP are thoroughly vetted against all national security and public safety systems, regardless of how they are processed.’
Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.