A federal judge in Florida has shut down President Joe Biden’s catch-and-release rules — and his quasi-legal “parole pathway.”
“For the most part, the Court finds in favor of Florida because, as detailed below, the evidence establishes that [Biden’s deputies] have effectively turned the Southwest Border into a meaningless line in the sand,” district court Judge T. Ken Wethererell, a Donald Trump appointee, wrote.
The judge wrote that Biden and his deputies have converted Americans’ border:
…[into] little more than a speedbump for aliens flooding into the country by prioritizing “alternatives to detention” [ATD] over actual detention and by releasing more than a million aliens into the country—on “parole” or pursuant to the exercise of “prosecutorial discretion” under a wholly inapplicable statute—without even initiating removal proceedings.
The judge delayed his decision for seven days, pending a Biden appeal to preserve the unpopular policy.
The decision is a big win for Florida’s Gov. Ron DeSantis and Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, who argued that Biden’s catch-and-release policy violates federal law and imposes economic burdens on the state.
A federal judge today agreed with Florida that @JoeBiden broke the border, and ordered @POTUS to adopt a new, lawful immigration policy to fix the chaos he created and protect the American people. https://t.co/XdVvHjJOtU
— AG Ashley Moody (@AGAshleyMoody) March 8, 2023
The double-barrelled “Parole+ATD” defeat was expected by Biden’s deputies and by many critics.
The decision knocks down central tools of Biden’s pro-migration border policy and exposes migration problems that Biden wanted to hide in the 2024 election. Those self-inflicted problems include Biden’s planned take-down of the Title 42 border barrier in May.
Biden’s policies are being used to counter four political problems created by his campaign promise to end President Donald Trump’s border rules.
Alejandro Mayorkas, Biden’s progressive, pro-migration border chief, is dangling the “Parole+ATD” quasi-legal pathways to divert the flood of Biden migrants in Mexico from the chaotic cartel-run routes. This diversion is intended to keep the border crush off the evening news during the 2024 election.
Mayorkas is also trying to aid the Democrats’ business wing, which expects many additional migrant workers, renters, and consumers above the roughly one million per year level approved by Congress in 1990. He told CNN on March 7:
We need immigration … I’ve engaged extensively with the business community. There are 10 million open jobs. There’s a [business] clamoring for individuals to fill them.
The pathways also are a political gift to the Democrats’ progressive wing, which argues their “equity” goal means foreigners have as much right as Americans to jobs and housing in the United States.
The policy is also used to create a new path for Mexican migrant workers. That gift provides Mexico’s government with an incentive to suppress the cartel’s chaotic delivery of their migrants to the U.S. border. If the U.S. cannot operate the Mexican parole pathway, then Biden’s deputies will have fewer levers to encourage Mexico to help hide the massive parole migration.
The “Parole+ATD” pathway struck down by the judge was intended to annually welcome at least 240,000 migrants who travel into Mexico.
But Mayorkas created a second parole pathway in January to admit roughly 360,000 more migrants each year flown in from four major countries.
In January, “we created [parole] pathways for [360,000] individuals [annually] from Cuba, Haiti, Nicaragua, and Venezuela,” to migrate into the United States, Mayorkas told CNN in an interview broadcast on March 7. He continued:
The population of those countries, the individuals coming from those countries, whom we encounter at our southern border has dropped more than 95 percent [because of the safer and cheaper parole pathway]. Remarkably, by the way, that successful program is being challenged in the courts. In Texas and elsewhere. And it mystifies me why, if there’s a complaint about the number of encounters, why someone would attack, a solution that is proving so successful,
The second parole pathway is facing a second lawsuit from Florida and 19 other states.
Overall, the two pathways would raise immigration levels by 60 percent above Congress’s cap, or to about one migrant for every two American births annually.
The ATD and parole policies encourage and enable economic migration for poor countries in Central America, Africa, and elsewhere.
They enable migration because they reassure poor foreigners that they will be able to easily migrate into U.S. jobs that pay off their debts to the criminal smugglers. Economic migration would largely stop if migrants believed they would not be able to get the U.S. jobs they need to repay their smuggling debts.
The judge scoffed at Mayorkas’s claims that the migrants must be released because there is not enough detention space::
Like a child who kills his parents and then seeks pity for being an orphan, it is hard to take Defendants’ claim that they had to release more aliens into the country because of limited detention capacity seriously when they have elected not to use one of the tools provided by Congress in §1225(b)(2)(C) and they have continued to ask for less detention capacity in furtherance of their prioritization of “alternatives to detention” over actual detention.
“Collectively, these actions were akin to posting a flashing “Come In, We’re Open” sign on the southern border,” the judge wrote.
Mayorkas’s agency is now spending more than $1 billion per year to help transport illegal migrants to U.S. jobs.
The judge also blocked Biden’s use of the parole pathway — so bolstering the lawsuit against the four-country parole pathway:
The Court concludes that [Biden’s parole policy] is contrary to law in three ways: (1) it does not contemplate a return to custody once the purposes of parole have been served; (2) it does not comply with the case-by-case requirement; and (3) it does not limit parole to urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.
“The Parole+ATD Policy is VACATED under the APA, and that policy is REMANDED to DHS for further proceedings consistent with this Opinion and Order,” said the judgment by Wetherell.
Pro-American reformers welcomed the win.
“This is a huge victory … and will advance a growing public awareness of how bad the situation at the border is,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director of the Immigraiton Law Reform Institute. He added:
So far, the administration has believed it can float above the law, treating Congress, in essence, as an advisory body. We are pleased that the court rejected that deeply unconstitutional position, and took a big step today toward protecting both our constitutional separation of powers and our border.
The case is Florida v. United States of America, 3:21-cv-1066-TKW-ZCB, in the U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida.