The U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a memorandum, signed by DHS acting-secretary David Pekoske, directing DHS, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to establish plans to review enforcement policies and set civil enforcement policies while DHS finalized its priorities. This was in response to President Biden’s Executive Order to revoke Executive Order 13768, implemented on January 25, 2017 by former President Trump, which punished sanctuary jurisdictions for protecting noncitizens from deportation. In response to the most recent Executive Order, DHS will prioritize national security, border security, and public safety as requested by President Biden, as well as monitor resources when facing operational challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Biden administration implemented a 100-day moratorium on the removal of individuals already subject to a final Order of Removal effective January 22, 2021, pausing removals for certain noncitizens while assessing the effectiveness and fairness of the immigration enforcement system. The process would also provide assessments of alternatives to removal such as “staying or reopening cases, alternative forms of detention, custodial detention, whether to grant temporary deferred action, or other appropriate action.” However, on January 26, 2021, Judge Drew Tipton of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued a Temporary Restraining Order enjoining the government from executing the 100-day moratorium. As a result, the government is enjoined from executing this pause for 14 days. In enjoining the moratorium, the Judge ruled that the Southern District of Texas had established a substantial likelihood that it will prevail on the merits on two counts: failure to comply with Removal of Illegal Noncitizens outlined in 8 U.S.C. §1231(a)(1)(A), and the moratorium was deemed arbitrary and capricious. This Judge also found that the harm to Texas outweighed the harm to defendants, and that executing the removals will not undermine the public interest. The TRO will not impact the other enforcement priorities set by DHS in their memorandum.