EL PASO, Texas – A federal judge in Florida on Thursday temporarily blocked the Biden administration from continuing a migrant release policy designed to ease overcrowding at immigration holding facilities along the US-Mexico border.
The verdict came a few hours ago Expiration of Title 42 Border restrictions at 11:59 pm EDT Thursday, citing concerns about severe overcrowding at already overcapacity Border Patrol immigration facilities.
US District Judge Kent Wetherell ordered the Biden administration to quickly end the immigrant release policy while also granting a request from Republican officials in Florida to end the Title 42 pandemic-era order.
In March, Wetherell blocked a similar Biden administration immigrant release policy in a lawsuit brought by the Florida attorney general.
Florida is arguing that this new policy is also illegal.
Weatherell’s order will expire in 14 days to give the Biden administration time to seek an emergency stay on the ruling. Another hearing in the case is scheduled for May 19.
In a filing opposing Florida’s request, the Biden administration said the number of immigrants held in Border Patrol custody could rise to 45,000 by the end of the month if the courts block expedited releases. On Thursday, the Border Patrol had about 25,000 migrants in its custody, despite only having the capacity to hold several thousand individuals in stations, processing centers and tents.
The ruling raises the possibility of more migrants being held in Border Patrol custody in dangerously overcrowded conditions amid a surge in migrant arrivals.
led up Expiration of Title 42Daily migrant crossings at the US-Mexico border have reached record levels, with border officials fearing an average of about 10,000 per day.
Earlier on Thursday, Border Patrol Raul Ortiz told CBS News That’s another 60,000 immigrants Waiting at the Mexican border hoping to enter the United States
The memo at the center of Thursday’s ruling allows the Border Patrol to quickly release some immigrants without court notice as part of an effort to reduce overcrowding in detention facilities.
Immigrants who are not deemed a risk to public safety or national security may be considered for this expedited release under humanitarian parole authority. People released under the policy, which were previously used during spikes in migrant crossings, will be directed to check in at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement offices around the country so they can receive a court notice there.
In an interview Thursday, Border Patrol Chief Ortiz said the expedited release policy was helping his agency reduce overcrowding, noting that some border sectors were “over capacity.”
“We are working closely with our NGO partners, with our communities to ensure that we release those migrants after vetting them and that they are not a significant threat to the community,” he said.
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