Texas is backing Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody’s effort to convince a federal appeals court to block immigration-enforcement decisions by the Biden administration.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office last week filed a brief at the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that seeks to bolster Moody’s arguments that the Biden administration has shirked responsibilities in enforcing immigration laws and threatened public safety.
A federal district judge last month rejected the arguments, leading Moody to take the case to the Atlanta-based appeals court. “To protect the American people, Congress mandated that the executive branch detain dangerous criminal aliens, including those convicted of serious drug offenses and crimes of moral turpitude,” lawyers in Paxton’s office wrote in a 36-page friend-of-the-court brief filed Thursday.
“Defendants --- who include the United States, several of its agencies, and several its officers --- have shirked this nondiscretionary duty.” The lawsuit focuses on memos issued Jan. 20 and Feb. 18 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, with Moody contending that the directives violate immigration laws and what is known as the Administrative Procedure Act.
But in rejecting a requested preliminary injunction, U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell on May 18 ruled that the memos were “interim policies” that were not final actions by the federal agencies and, as a result, were not subject to judicial review. She also wrote that the memos prioritize immigration-enforcement decisions, such as focusing on cases involving national security, border security and public safety.
“The guidelines are just that; they are not statutes and do not have the status of law as they constitute a prioritization and not a prohibition of enforcement,” Honeywell, a judge in the federal Middle District of Florida, wrote. “The policies do not change anyone’s legal status nor do they prohibit the enforcement of any law or detention of any noncitizen. The prioritization scheme does not necessarily have a direct day-to-day impact on Florida, although certainly an indirect impact can be claimed.”
The appeals court is scheduled to hear arguments in September. Paxton’s office filed the brief a day after Gov. Ron DeSantis announced that Florida law-enforcement officers would go to Texas and Arizona to help with border control.
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