A United States federal judge has temporarily blocked an effort by Joe Biden to halt the deportation of some immigrants for a 100-day period, a decision that was immediately slammed by rights groups.
US District Judge Drew Tipton, an appointee of former President Donald Trump in the Southern District of Texas, issued a temporary restraining order that blocks the policy nationwide for 14 days following a legal challenge filed by Texas.
Tipton said the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations”.
The Biden administration is expected to appeal the ruling, which halts the policy while both parties submit briefs on the matter.
Biden promised on the campaign trail to enact a 100-day moratorium on deportations if elected, a proposal that contrasted sharply with Trump’s crackdown on immigration.
Tipton’s order is an early blow to the Biden administration, which has proposed far-reaching changes sought by immigration advocates, including a plan to legalise an estimated 11 million immigrants living in the US without documentation.
After Biden took office on Wednesday, the top official at the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memo that ordered a pause on certain deportations to enable the department to better deal with “operational challenges” at the US-Mexico border during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The moratorium went into effect Friday and applied to almost anyone who entered the US without authorisation before November.
In the legal complaint filed that same day, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said the state would face irreparable harm if the deportation freeze was allowed to go into effect.