Florida is suing the Biden administration for its “illegal” catch-and-release tactics at the southern border, claiming they affect the state’s “quasi-sovereign interests,” and that officials are either breaking federal immigration law or misusing their authority.
The lawsuit was filed by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody on Tuesday, as part of a combined effort with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis to “uphold the rule of law despite the Biden administration’s decision to violate the law.”
The lawsuit was filed in the Northern District of Florida’s Pensacola Division. A preliminary injunction is not being sought by Moody. The Department of Homeland Security, its component agencies, such as Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as well as top officials from ICE, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and US Citizenship and Immigration Services, are named as defendants in the lawsuit (USCIS).
The United States is also being sued by the attorney general.
Florida’s lawsuit against the Biden administration was obtained exclusively by Fox News on Tuesday.
The complaint claims that “The Biden administration’s illegal border policies cause Florida harm,” “Many of the aliens illegally released by the Biden administration are arriving, or will arrive in Florida, harming the state’s quasi-sovereign interests and forcing it to incur millions of dollars in expenses.”
Individuals are deemed “arriving aliens” under immigration laws when they arrive in the United States, either at ports of entry or when arrested crossing the border illegally.
Those persons are required to be detained under US law until a decision is reached on whether or not they will be permitted to the country. Even if the individual is seeking asylum, an immigration judge will assess whether they are eligible for asylum before releasing them into the United States’ interior.
The federal government’s “parole authority,” which permits aliens to be released into the interior immediately, but only on a “case-by-case basis” and for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.” is the only exception to the regulation.
The Biden administration’s immigration policy, according to Moody’s, is either in violation of these regulations or simply an abuse of their parole authority.
“The government is not free to ignore the clear commands of Congress,” the lawsuit claims. “It has claimed that it lacks the resources and detention capacity to process the surge of migrants at the border.”
According to the lawsuit, the Biden administration “has actively sought to eliminate measures that increase its resources and detention capacity, such as the Migrant Protection Protocols (also known as the “wait in Mexico policy”), and has even asked Congress to reduce the number of immigration detention beds available to it,” and “has even asked Congress to reduce the number of immigration detention beds available to it.”
“Further, it is the Biden administration’s misguided policies that have encouraged more migrants to make the dangerous journey to the United States,” according to the lawsuit. “The government cannot, therefore, use a purported lack of resources as an excuse to ignore congressional mandates.”
Most persons who apply for asylum are denied, according to Moody, and many of those who apply for refuge do so fraudulently.
According to Moody’s, “Once people are released into the interior, the federal government may never find them,”
According to Moody’s, the US has released at least 225,000 migrants at the border since President Biden took office in January.
Moody argued that those illegal border crossers come to Florida, which spends more than $100 million per year incarcerating criminal illegal aliens and provides a variety of other services to those who are unlawfully present, such as education, substance abuse treatment, crime victim services, and emergency medical care.
The state of Florida is asking the court to “hold unlawful and set aside” the Biden administration’s policy of “releasing arriving aliens subject to mandatory detention, of paroling aliens without engaging in case-by-case adjudication or abiding by the other limits on that authority; and of failing to serve charging documents or initiate removal proceedings against plainly inadmissible aliens who are being released into the interior of the United States.”
Florida also wants the court to grant “permanent injunctive relief,” which would compel the Biden administration to follow U.S. code requirements, issue declaratory relief finding the program illegal, and pay Florida costs and reasonable attorney’s fees.
The complaint was filed after US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) encountered more than 200,000 migrants at the southern border in August, the second month in a row that the number has surpassed 200,000 as migrants attempt to enter the United States.
According to Fox News, there were 208,887 contacts in August. While this is the first fall in migrant encounters under the Biden administration, when they had been steadily increasing for months, it is only a 2% decrease from the nearly 212,000 encounters in July.
Furthermore, the 208,887 interactions in August reflect a 317 percent rise over the 50,014 encounters in August 2020, and a 233 percent increase over the 62,707 encounters in August 2019 during that year’s border crisis.
Single adults accounted for 49% of apprehensions in August, down 7% from July, and 44 percent of migrants were deported under Title 42 public health provisions enacted by the Trump administration and extended by the Biden administration.
Under the order issued in response to COVID-19, the Biden administration has started dismissing single adults and some migrant families, but not unaccompanied children or migrant families with young children.
In August, there were 18,847 encounters with unaccompanied children, down slightly from July, and 86.487 encounters with family units, up 4% from July. Only 19% of incidents involving members of the family unit resulted in a Title 42 expulsion.
The complaint also follows DeSantis’ letter to the Biden administration last month, in which he requested that it halt resettling illegal immigrants in Florida. DeSantis requested that the administration deport them or send them to a state that supports “flouting of our immigration laws.”
According to figures from the Florida Border Patrol, 59,691 immigrants were issued a notice to appear in court or an order of recognizance in July alone, while 6,254 unaccompanied children have been released to sponsors in Florida this fiscal year as of June.
Mayorkas was warned not to resettle migrants in the Sunshine State by DeSantis, one of a handful of Republican governors who have protested to the Biden administration’s immigration policy and blamed them for creating the border surge.
“I ask that DHS immediately cease any further resettlement of illegal aliens in Florida and that the aliens instead be removed from the United States or resettled in states that support the administration’s continued flouting of our immigration laws,” he added.
“We can not stand the lawlessness that your department is aiding and abetting on the southwest border,” he said. “Floridians welcome responsible immigration that serves the interests of Florida and the American people.”
According to a statement from the Department of Homeland Security, single persons and families are still deported under Title 42. Those who are refused entry into Mexico are transferred to an ICE facility and issued a notice to appear or a notice to report to an ICE office.
“As part of the process, Border Patrol agents collect biometric and biographic information – fingerprints, photos, phone numbers, and an address in the United States – and run a background check to identify criminals or those who pose a public safety risk,” according to the spokeswoman.
Many immigrants are “proactively reaching out to ICE to begin their official immigration processing, including by receiving a Notice to Appear” according to the spokeswoman, and community partners also help people report to ICE and court.
“Those who do not report, as well as anyone in our country without legal status,” they continued, “are subject to removal by ICE.”
The Biden administration has been under fire for its handling of the border crisis, which Republican critics blame on the government’s significant rollback of Trump-era initiatives such as border wall building and the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). It has also restricted ICE’s internal focus and campaigned hard for the legalization of illegal immigrants already in the country. It has also started releasing migrants into the interior, processing UACs for sponsors who are already in the country, and releasing migrant families, which has enraged Republican governors and congressmen.
The Biden administration has retaliated, accusing the Trump administration for closing down lawful asylum routes while emphasizing the significance of fundamental problems in pushing migrants to migrate north, such as poverty, violence, and corruption in Central America.
DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas stated that the administration intends to continue with its border strategy, which includes rebuilding “safe, legal and orderly pathways for migrants,” enhancing processing, and pursuing traffickers, among other things.
When he presented border numbers in July, he added, “We have a plan, we are executing our plan and that takes time,”
In an audio recording obtained by Fox News, he also told Border agents that the scenario is “unsustainable.”