Republicans are unhappy that ICE officials are no longer issuing detainers for some people under current administration policy.
Texas and Louisiana filed a lawsuit on Tuesday against the Biden administration over its new U.S. Immigration Customs and Enforcement guidelines, suggesting they aren't strict enough and lead to fewer deportations.
President Joe Biden announced an interim, 90-day policy back in February directing ICE officials on which noncitizens to arrest, detain, and deport. Arrest criteria still include undocumented individuals who have committed extreme offenses or pose a serious threat to public safety, including terror threats, gang members, and convicted murderers. The new guidelines do not protect noncitizens who arrived in the United States unlawfully on or after Nov. 1, 2020.
Republicans have specifically criticized Biden over the issue of ICE detainers, requests to local jails or state prisons to hold noncitizens completing their sentences for up to 48 hours until ICE can take custody of them.
Under Biden's more targeted ICE criteria, some detainers no longer apply or need to be issued to certain incarcerated noncitizens.
The change prompted Texas and Louisiana to sue the administration.
"By failing to take custody of criminal aliens and giving no explanation for this reckless policy change, the Biden Administration is demonstrating a blatant disregard for Texans’'and Americans' safety," Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a Tuesday press release.
The lawsuit itself claims, "Since the inauguration, the Biden Administration has rescinded dozens of detainer requests previously issued to TDCJ (Texas Department of Criminal Justice), and ICE has declined to take custody of dangerous criminal aliens that it had previously sought. ... That is indicative of a broader shift in federal policy that began on the first day of the Biden Administration and has resulted in a 'crisis on the border.'"
However, though some experts have said Biden's ICE guidelines could protect thousands of undocumented immigrants, marginalized groups of noncitizens will still be affected.
Biden's guidelines, in other words, are still rigorous and could impact vulnerable communities.
"I think that those who are disproportionately impacted by our current immigration enforcement scheme — low-income, immigrant communities of color — will continue to suffer at the hands of individual ICE officers enforcing these priorities as they see fit," Sandhya Nadadur, Detention & Deportation policy analyst at the California Immigration Policy Center, said in an email in February when the new ICE guidelines were announced.
Texas and Louisiana's lawsuit mirrors actions taken by Florida's GOP governor in early April.
Gov. Ron DeSantis directed Department of Corrections Secretary Mark Inch on Thursday to ensure rigid compliance with ICE detainers, and for as many noncitizens as possible to be taken into ICE custody after their sentences, effectively ignoring federal guidance from the Biden administration.
Florida, along with Texas and Louisiana, participates in the 287(g) program with ICE, which is an agreement between the agency and state and local law enforcement agencies to serve ICE detainers to incarcerated noncitizens, among other things.
Florida has more 287(g) agreements in place than any other state, with 49 sheriff's offices participating. The state is followed by Texas, with 26 sheriff's offices participating in the program.
The moves come as other states are working similarly to ban sanctuary cities — areas where law enforcement agencies limit cooperation with ICE — or require compliance with ICE detainers.
Last Wednesday, Montana Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill banning sanctuary cities and requiring state and local law enforcement agencies to comply with federal immigration law, though Montana does not have any sanctuary cities at present.
And in Oklahoma, the state House is considering a bill that directs law enforcement personnel to comply with immigration detainer requests and retain prisoners as needed. The legislation was being considered in committee as of April 5.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.