Judge extends restraining order against Biden's deportation freeze


A federal judge on Tuesday extended by two weeks a temporary restraining order against the Biden administration's 100-day deportation freeze in one of the earliest legal battles over the new president's policy agenda.

Judge Drew Tipton of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas said in a decision that he found it necessary to extend his order while the case continues to be litigated, citing potentially "irreparable" harm to Texas, which brought the lawsuit, if the administration is allowed to put its moratorium into effect.

"The Court may ultimately be persuaded by the Defendants’ arguments, but any harm they might incur between now and then does not outweigh the potential for irreparable harm to Texas," wrote Tipton, who was appointed by former President Trump.

The restraining order was set to end Tuesday. A spokeswoman for the Justice Department, which is representing the administration in the case, did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) brought the lawsuit last month, just days after President Biden's inauguration, in response to a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) directive to pause most deportations while the agency conducts a review of its operations. 

“In one of its first of dozens of steps that harm Texas and the nation as a whole, the Biden administration directed DHS to violate federal immigration law and breach an agreement to consult and cooperate with Texas on that law," Paxton said in a statement at the time. "Our state defends the largest section of the southern border in the nation. Failure to properly enforce the law will directly and immediately endanger our citizens and law enforcement personnel."

Paxton's suit argues that DHS overstepped its authority by ordering the deportation freeze.

The ACLU, representing a pair of immigrant advocacy groups in Texas, intervened in the lawsuit, arguing that the state should not be able to check DHS's discretion on deportations.

"The implications of this suit are sweeping: Texas claims an effective veto on national immigration policy, and it seeks to upend a new Administration’s first steps towards setting national immigration enforcement policy just days after it took office," the groups wrote in a filing last month. "But this is not just a fight among governments over sovereign power; this case involves serious human stakes."

The Justice Department declined to comment.

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