By Katabella Roberts
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody has scored yet another win in her legal battle with the Biden administration over its policy of allowing the mass release of illegal immigrants into the interior of the United States.
In a June 5 statement, Moody said that the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals had agreed to keep in place a preliminary injunction earlier obtained by Florida against the Biden administration policy known as “Parole with Conditions.”
The policy allows federal authorities to release illegal immigrants into the country without a court date.
A federal judge in May granted the preliminary injunction on the government’s policy after finding that the state of Florida would suffer “irreparable harm” if the injunction were not put in place.
Judge T. Kent Wetherell, a Trump appointee, also found that the injunction outweighed the harm it would cause the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
After the ruling, the government sought a review of that decision in the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that Judge Wetherell’s decision would cause it to suffer “irreparable injury” because it would “undermine the Executive Branch’s constitutional and statutory authority to implement its immigration priorities and secure the border.”
It also argued that blocking the ability to release illegal immigrants will lead to the overcrowding of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) facilities and threaten the health, safety, and security of Border Patrol agents and illegal aliens.
Additionally, DHS had stated that overcrowding at such facilities could cause it to have to release some illegal aliens without adequate monitoring measures and that blocking the policy could, in the worst-case scenario, “prevent it from apprehending some aliens entirely.”
The three-judge appeals court disagreed, stating that it does not find the government’s argument to be “persuasive.”
‘Skepticism’ Over DHS Claims of ‘Impending Disaster’
“To start, DHS’s claims of irreparable injury ring somewhat hollow on this record, considering the department’s track record of overstating similar threats in the underlying proceedings,” the judges wrote in their ruling (pdf).
“Given this record, we take DHS’s latest claims of impending disaster if it is not allowed to use either of the challenged policies with some skepticism,” they said.
The judges also noted that recent data from the border “casts further doubt on DHS’s irreparable-injury argument” in the wake of Title 42 coming to an end in May.
“Contrary to DHS’s catastrophic predictions, the number of daily encounters with aliens did not surge in the days following the expiration of the Title 42 order on May 11, 2023, but instead fell significantly,” they wrote, pointing to data stating that the number of encounters at the southern border dropped from 9,649 on May 11, 2023, to 4,193 on May 14.
Title 42, the emergency health restrictions enforced during the COVID-19 pandemic that allowed Border Patrol agents to turn illegal aliens back to Mexico immediately if they were deemed to pose a health threat, expired on May 11.
“DHS has neither explained how that data is consistent with its representations nor provided any more recent data demonstrating a surge in illegal crossings at the border. This Court will not find irreparable harm based on mere conjecture,” the judges wrote.
Moody welcomed the appeals court’s decision in a statement on June 5.
‘American Lives at Risk’
“Protecting our border is one of the most fundamental responsibilities of our president, and Florida will not allow Joe Biden and Secretary Mayorkas to continue putting American lives at risk in clear violation of federal law,” Moody said.
The win for the Florida Attorney General comes after she joined an 18-state coalition of other attorneys general in filing a complaint (pdf) over the Biden administration’s new “Circumvention of Lawful Pathways” rule that the government says will incentivize the use of lawful pathways.
Moody joined the Attorneys general of the states of Alaska, Arkansas, Idaho, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming in filing the legal challenge.
They argue that the rule, which would make individuals traveling through a third county before reaching the U.S.–Mexico border ineligible for asylum under certain circumstances, will “further degrade our nation’s border security and make it even easier to illegally immigrate into the United States.”
Specifically, the attorneys general argue that the rule includes an exception for illegal aliens who use the CBP “One app” to “schedule” their entry into the United States at a specific Port of Entry, which they say will “incentivize an ‘increasing number of migrants’ to use the CBP One app to make bogus asylum claims, all while avoiding the bad optics of crowds of illegal aliens ‘waiting in long lines of unknown duration at the POEs’ or crossing between POEs.”
The Biden administration is also facing a number of legal challenges from both Republican-led states, including Texas, and civil rights groups over its immigration policies.