Border Crossings on Pace to Reach Highest Level in Twenty Years
Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas announced on Tuesday, March 16, that the number of border crossings at the southern border of the United States is expected to reach its highest level in the past twenty years, raising concerns about safety as both the Biden administration and Congress debate more long-term changes to U.S. border policy.
In his statement, Mayorkas said that in an effort to secure the southern border and to safeguard Americans and migrants, most single adults and families are being turned away, although unaccompanied minors were not. Mayorkas went on further to say that the situation is difficult and will take some time to resolve. Mayorkas and Roberta Jacobson, the White House’s coordinator for the southern border, emphasized that while the Biden administration’s policy is more humane than those in the past, it still does not condone open borders.
The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is attempting to open additional facilities in order to transfer the increasing number of migrant children out of the custody of Customs and Border Protection (CBP).
New Immigration Court Procedural Rules Halted
A federal court has entered a preliminary injunction barring enforcement of new regulations that would have essentially prohibited immigration court judges from administratively closing cases, including for the purpose of reducing large caseloads. The rules also would have made changes to deadlines and procedures for immigrants who had appealed the decisions of the immigration judge.
The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California found that the new regulations violated the Administrative Procedure Act (“APA”) because the Department of Justice did not allow sufficient time for public comment on the long list of regulatory changes. The Court wrote that “the 30-day public comment period provided was inadequate under the APA, particularly in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic and the numerous other concurrent regulatory changes to the immigration system.” The Court further went on to state that “the plaintiffs are likely to succeed on their claim that the agencies did not engage in reasoned decision making when formulating the rule.”
The rule would have also, among other things, limited the ability of courts to reopen removal proceedings and the grounds for immigration appellate judges to remand cases for further review, as well as shortened the times that immigrants and their attorneys have to brief their cases before the appellate court.
Cape May County Continues Three-Year Fight With State of New Jersey Over Federal Immigration Policy
The Cape May County Sheriff’s office has appealed a federal court’s dismissal of a lawsuit that challenges New Jersey’s policy to restrict local law enforcement’s ability to turn over undocumented detainees to federal immigration officials.
As previously reported in Norris McLaughlin Immigration Law Blog, the Trump administration had established a procedure for local law enforcement to check the immigration status of detainees. The state of New Jersey subsequently restricted what local police were able to provide to federal immigration officers, although not all cooperation was barred. Under current state policy, the police may not ask about the immigration status of a suspect, and jails cannot continue the detention of a nonviolent offender purely because Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has requested an individual be held. In her decision, U.S. District Court Judge Freda Wolfson wrote that local restrictions on cooperation did not violate federal law and dismissed the lawsuits that had been filed by Cape May, Ocean, and Monmouth Counties.