Just hours before the pandemic-era immigration rule Title 42 was set to lift on Thursday, a Florida judge blocked President Joe Biden’s plan to release some migrants on “parole,” a policy aimed at reducing overcrowding in migrant detention facilities. Late Friday, the Biden administration asked for an emergency stay of the judge’s order, saying it plans to appeal.
In Florida, US District Judge T. Kent Wetherell has been busy. Thursday’s ruling, issued in response to a lawsuit brought by Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody, was the second of two of his orders that have delayed and complicated Biden’s immigration plans in recent months. In March, Wetherell also blocked a Biden administration policy to release migrants with minimal supervision, an order that the Department of Justice is also planning to appeal, Politico reports. “The Solicitor General has authorized an appeal of both orders,” a DOJ filing in the Florida court reads. “The Court should immediately stay its orders to prevent those harmful consequences while the government seeks review in the court of appeals.”
The language in the filing echoes comments made by Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas. While speaking on MSNBC on Friday, he called the ruling “very harmful” and noted that its parole policy is a practice that already has been used by “prior administrations,” (Mayorkas didn’t cite any administrations by name, but the practice has been deployed by both the Bush and Obama administrations.) Similarly, while speaking to reporters also on Friday, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said, “The way we see that is, it’s sabotage. It’s pure and simple.” (Jean-Pierre declined to specify whether she was referring to the judge’s decision or the lawsuit itself.) “The claims that [US Customs and Border Protection] is allowing or encouraging [the] mass release of migrants is just categorically false,” she added. “That’s not what’s occurring; that is not what’s happening.”
Meanwhile, at the border, officials say there was a steep increase in people crossing into the US without documentation on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, before the suspension of Title 42, but the number of migrants at the border dropped on Friday after the policy expired. The mixed reports, however, haven’t stopped GOP lawmakers from capitalizing on the situation. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), for instance, called it an “absolute travesty” and an “invasion at our southern border,” while Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) said the situation at the border is “as chaotic as Afghanistan was.”