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U.S. Supreme Court rejects Texas lawsuit over Biden’s immigration policy

 A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle sits at Gate 42, a section of the border fence, in East El Paso.
Julian Aguilar / The Texas Newsroom
A U.S. Border Patrol vehicle sits at Gate 42, a section of the border fence, in East El Paso.

In a near-unanimous decision the high court ruled that Texas and other Republican-led states did not have standing to sue the Biden administration over its immigration enforcement.

In a significant blow to Texas the United States Supreme Court on Friday ruled the state did not have the legal right to sue the Biden administration over its immigration -enforcement policies.

The 8-1 decision from the high court comes after the Department of Homeland Security in 2021 issued a memo indicating that immigration officials should use their discretion to prioritize deportation of recent unauthorized border crossers and undocumented immigrants who pose a threat to the country.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry filed suit after the memo was implemented and were later supported by several other GOP-led states. A Texas-based federal judge sided with Texas and Louisiana in 2022 and blocked the enforcement guidelines. That decision was later upheld by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Just before the case was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in November Paxton said in a statement that: “The law that the Biden Administration is trying to ignore is crystal clear: certain illegal aliens that have committed crimes must be detained and cannot be allowed to roam freely in our communities.”

(Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is currently suspended from office after he was impeached by the Texas House in May pending a final outcome in the state Senate.)

But U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, a Trump appointee, said in the court’s opinion that Texas was out of its league in bringing the lawsuit in the first place.

“The States essentially want the Federal Judiciary to order the Executive Branch to alter its arrest policy so as to make more arrests,” he wrote. “But this Court has long held ‘that a citizen lacks standing to contest the policies of the prosecuting authority when he himself is neither prosecuted nor threatened with prosecution.'"

Gov. Greg Abbott called the decision “outrageous” and said Texas will continue to deploy state resources to the border.

“SCOTUS gives the Biden [administration] carte blanche to avoid accountability for abandoning enforcement of immigration laws,” he tweeted. “Texas will continue to deploy the National Guard to repel & turn back illegal immigrants trying to enter Texas illegally.”

In a statement the American Immigration Lawyers Association praised the decision.

“SCOTUS upheld our federal system by agreeing that the states in question lacked standing; it was always a bad idea to try and use the courts as a political weapon,” AILA President Farshad Owji said. “Justice wins out today, and this decision means the government will be able to prioritize its limited resources to ensure public safety in a smart and rational manner.”

The office of the Texas Attorney General’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Got a tip? Email Julián Aguilar at jaguilar@kera.org.You can follow Julián on Twitter @nachoaguilar.

Copyright 2023 KERA. To see more, visit KERA.

Julián Aguilar