Judge T. Kent Wetherell of the Northern District of Florida advanced a lawsuit against Joe Biden’s ‘catch-and-release’ policy Wednesday and said the president has ‘turned the southern border into little more than a speed bump’ for illegal immigrants
A federal judge in Florida advanced a lawsuit against President Joe Biden’s ‘catch-and-release’ policy for migrants and claimed he turned the border into a ‘speed bump’ for illegal immigrants.
Judge T. Kent Wetherell of the Northern District of Florida issued a scathing opinion Wednesday claiming the court was ‘wholly unpersuaded’ by the administration’s position to continue the practice.
‘Today’s order is a huge win in our fight to force the Biden administration to fix the crisis by following the law,’ Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody told Fox News. ‘As the order states, ‘not even the President is above the law,’ and I look forward to advancing our case to hold the Biden administration accountable for ignoring public-safety immigration laws and turning our nation’s last bastion of protection into nothing more than a speed bump.’
Migration is still surging at the southern border and is estimated to triple at the end of this month when Title 42 ends.
In the month of March alone, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered 221,303 migrants at the southern border – a two-decade high and the most since Biden took office in January 2021.
Moody, in a coordinated effort with Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, filed a lawsuit in September 2021 against Biden and demanded that the administration stop the ‘illegal’ so-called ‘catch-and-release’ policy.
The term refers to the process where immigrants are apprehended and later released from Department of Homeland Security (DHS) custody until their trial.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody (right) and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (left) filed a lawsuit in September 2021 against Biden and demanded that the administration stop the ‘illegal’ so-called ‘catch-and-release’ policy
Migrants from Haiti seek asylum in the U.S. near Yuma, Arizona on April 30, 2022
Republicans and Border Patrol agents and officials have largely slammed this process, claiming that the vast majority of released migrants never return for their proceedings and instead remain in the country illegally.
Democrats, however, claim that alternatives to detention protocols, like the use of GPS monitoring or check-ins, are enough to keep illegal immigrants in check pending their hearings.
The opinion issued by Wetherell claims that Biden’s immigration and border agencies have been forced to ‘adopt and implement policies that contravene explicit mandates and restrictions in the immigration statutes.’
‘[T]he policies have effectively turned the southern border into little more than a speed bump for the hundreds of thousands of aliens who have flooded across the border into the country since January 2021 and the thousands more who are arriving at the border daily,’ the judge said.
He also called Biden’s policies ‘as remarkable as it is wrong’.
‘Thus, if Florida’s allegations that Defendants are essentially flaunting the immigration laws are proven to be true, the Court most certainly can (and will) do something about it,’ Wetherell added in his opinion.
He said that the Biden administration has ‘unfettered discretion to determine how (or if) to comply with the immigration statutes’ and claimed there is not much any court can do about it.
With the impending end of Title 42 on May 23, border and immigrantion enforcement agencies are scrambling as internal projections show that the number of crossings could ramp from 8,000 to 18,000 each day.
In an announcement last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced it was ending Title 42, which allowed for border agencies to expel migrants without hearing their asylum claims in the midst of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
While the emergency declaration remains in place, the illegal immigration protection is ending – and Biden’s administration will pay the political price.
Illegal immigration saw a new decades-high in March with CBP encountering 221,303 migrants in that month alone – and it’s expected to triple by the end of May with the end of Title 42
Upon taking office, Biden signed several immigration-related executive orders, including immediately halting construction on Trump’s southern border wall.
He also restarted catch-and-release policies, claiming on Day One: ‘This is about how America is safer, stronger, more prosperous when we have a fair, orderly, and humane legal immigration system.’
Trump put an end to catch-and-release for the most part by invoking the Migrant Protection Protocol (MPP), which allowed for the removal of migrants to Mexico as they awaited asylum proceedings or other immigration hearings.
MPP is better known as the Remain in Mexico program.
Biden ended MPP in June and was sued by several red states to stop the protection from ending. The 6-3 conservative majority Supreme Court is set to rule on the case in the coming months.