On Thursday evening, a federal judge issued a two-week restraining order on a policy announced by the Biden administration earlier this week. The policy in question would have allowed for the release of migrants without court dates if Customs and Border Protection (CBP) faced overcrowding. Migrants would be released on “parole with conditions,” requiring them to make an appointment with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or request a Notice to Appear by mail.
Under this policy, migrants would be rapidly released into the country without receiving an alien registration number or a court date. The use of parole would be authorized if a sector capacity went above 125%, if agents apprehended 7,000 migrants per day over 72 hours, or if the average time in custody went above 60 hours. With agents encountering over 10,000 migrants a day since Monday, there were concerns that the end of the Title 42 public health order on Thursday, which has been used since March 2020 to return millions of migrants rapidly at the southern border due to COVID-19, would result in an even bigger wave of migrants flocking to the border in the hope of being admitted to the country.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody had sued after media reports emerged of the planned releases, arguing that the policy was “materially identical” to a “Parole + ATD” policy blocked by the same judge in March. Judge T. Kent Wetherell II agreed with Moody’s assessment in his order, stating that “the Court has no trouble concluding that Florida has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits because the challenged policy appears to be materially indistinguishable from the Parole+ATD policy vacated in Florida.”
Moody, in a statement late Thursday, said that the lifting of Title 42 “presents an unprecedented crisis at our nation’s Southwest Border.” She accused the Biden administration of doing “absolutely nothing to prepare for that crisis,” and of issuing the Parole with Conditions mass release policy, which was virtually identical to the policy already invalidated by the same judge in March.
DHS had warned that blocking the use of parole has the potential to cause chaos at the border, estimating that doing so would result in an overwhelming 45,000 migrants in custody by the end of May. However, the judge did not find those arguments persuasive, stating that “this problem is largely one of Defendants’ own making through the adoption an implementation of policies that have encouraged the so-called ‘irregular migration’ that has become fairly regular over the past 2 years.” The judge has scheduled a hearing for a preliminary injunction for May 19.
While DHS had acknowledged the plan to release migrants without court dates, it had rejected the idea that it was conducting “mass” releases, saying instead that those releases were only taking place on a case-by-case basis. A DHS spokesperson had told Fox News Digital on Thursday that “reports that CBP is allowing or encouraging mass releases of migrants are categorically false.” The spokesperson added that “parole may be considered for certain migrants on a case-by-case basis if they have cleared security vetting, but migrants who do not have a lawful basis to remain will be expeditiously removed — just like the 1.4 million migrants who were expelled last year alone.”
The order adds a new twist to the Biden administration’s efforts to restore order at the border. DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas has been touting a wide-ranging plan that includes international cooperation, a new asylum rule to make some migrants ineligible if they entered illegally and failed to claim asylum at a third country, a surge of personnel, expanded legal processes, and a stiffening of traditional Title 8 penalties. However, both he and President Biden have admitted that