(The Center Square) – The state of Florida is taking additional legal action against the Biden administration over its immigration policies after Attorney General Ashley Moody’s recent trip to the Texas-Mexico border.
Moody filed an amended complaint Wednesday challenging a Biden administration policy called “Parole + Alternatives to Detention,” which guides U.S. Immigration and Customs and Enforcement officials to release illegal immigrants into the U.S. instead of beginning the legal process for their removal.
The legal action is in addition to the lawsuit Florida filed last September over the administration’s catch-and-release program. The Obama-era policy, whereby federal agents release illegal immigrants into the U.S. instead of detaining them according to federal law, was halted by the Trump administration.
Under the Trump administration, those entering the U.S. illegally, including those claiming asylum, were detained or were required to wait in Mexico under the Remain in Mexico program while their case was considered before an immigration court to determine if they had a valid reason to enter the U.S. This policy was halted by the Biden administration and the catch-and-release and Parole + Alternatives policies were implemented.
While the Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration had to reinstate the Remain in Mexico policy, after Texas and Missouri attorneys general sued, they still had to keep taking the administration to court to comply with the court order. While the administration claims that it has reinstated the Remain in Mexico program, continuing to release individuals into the U.S. indicates that it hasn’t, the AGs argue.
The lawsuit also comes after Florida joined eight states in suing the Biden administration last week over its Central American Minors program, another Obama-era policy halted by the Trump administration and reinstated by Biden.
After a Florida father was murdered by an illegal immigrant last fall, Gov. Ron DeSantis vowed to look into every avenue possible to stop the Biden administration from violating immigration law and bringing illegal immigrants to Florida. He and Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry called out the Biden administration after they learned that illegal immigrants were being flown into Florida in the middle of the night without the state’s knowledge on flights that were reportedly facilitated and or funded by the federal government.
“The Biden administration has not only consciously refused to enforce immigration laws, but it has also developed an operation to secretly resettle illegal aliens into communities across Florida and the rest of the United States,” DeSantis said. “They’re doing this in the dark of night without any coordination with states, without any background checks, and without any efforts to initiate the legal process for their removal.”
Suing the Biden administration is one way Florida “is continuing our fight to hold the Biden Administration accountable for its reckless disregard for immigration laws,” he said after the latest legal action was filed.
At a recent border summit near McAllen, Texas, hosted by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Moody said the AGs have learned that the Biden administration was “building a massive clandestine smuggling operation, outside the confines of law across our nation.”
She said, “When I took office, I never dreamed I’d be fighting against my own government to help me in my job as attorney general to protect my citizens.”
“When we started this year, we immediately had to start fighting [the Biden administration] in court because it wasn’t following the law. They were releasing those here illegally that were committing crimes in our states in violation of federal law, or they were cancelling operations that were going after those here illegally that were sexual predators, sexual offenders,” she said.
President Joe Biden has yet to visit the southern border. In his first year in office, Border Patrol agents made nearly 2 million enforcement actions against people entering the U.S. illegally, many of whom were released into the U.S. The administration has argued its policies are humane and continues to facilitate the transfer of people into the U.S., including single, young adults.
One day after Moody’s announcement, ICE announced it was requesting contract bids to help it establish a Young Adult Case Management Program to aid illegal immigrants ages 18 and 19 “who pose a low flight risk” to “navigate the immigration process and access community services.” The program applies to those who “age out” of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement custody, or are released by Border Patrol or ICE agents, or are currently reporting to ICE’s non-detained docket.
ICE Acting Director Tae D. Johnson said, “We remain committed to providing for the health and welfare of all noncitizens in our custody, while ensuring they have access to needed resources and support.”
The request for proposal (RFP) was posted Jan. 28 “for interested contractors who can establish a program that provides appropriate monitoring services for participating young adults while promoting compliance with immigration obligations and release conditions” as they “await final determination of their immigration cases.”
The program will not include GPS or other monitoring technology.