The Supreme Court on Thursday declined to freeze a lower court ruling that would have prevented the Biden administration from prioritizing deportations only for illegal immigrants who pose the greatest threat to public safety.
The vote was 5-4, with conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett joining liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan and Ketanji Brown Jackson in allowing the Biden administration to keep the guidance.
The court’s order freezes the nationwide process for now and the court will hear arguments in the case later this year.
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The justices acted on the administration’s emergency request to the court following conflicting rulings by federal appeals courts on a Department of Homeland Security order that halts deportations unless individuals commit acts of terrorism, espionage or “serious threats to public safety.”
A federal appeals court in Cincinnati earlier this month overturned a district judge’s order halting the policy in a lawsuit filed by Arizona, Ohio and Montana.
But in a separate lawsuit filed by Texas and Louisiana, a federal judge in Texas ordered the guidance suspended nationwide, and a federal appellate panel in New Orleans declined to step in.
In their Supreme Court filings, Texas and Louisiana argued that the administration’s guidance violates federal law that requires the detention of people in the US illegally and convicted of serious crimes. States have said they face additional costs to incarcerate people the federal government allows to remain free inside the U.S., despite their criminal records.
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The guidance, issued after Joe Biden became president, updated the Trump-era policy of deporting illegal immigrants regardless of criminal history or community ties.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.