OAN Brooke Mallory
UPDATED 6:19 PM PT – Wednesday, March 8, 2023
District Judge T. Kent Wetherell II in Florida has nullified the Biden administration’s use of parole to release migrants into the United States, declaring the practice unlawful and accusing the administration of turning the U.S.-Mexico border into a “meaningless line in the sand.”
Wednesday’s ruling came out as a response to a lawsuit from the Sunshine State, which alleged that the Biden administration’s policy of mass releasing tens of thousands of migrants who illegally cross the border, rather than detaining them, violated U.S. immigration law.
The administration is responsible for facing more than 1.7 million migrant encounters in 2021 and over 2.3 million in 2022 and had searched for ways to swiftly release migrants into the U.S. as it ended Trump-era tactics like the Migrant Protection Protocols, which held migrants for immigration hearings.
They typically released migrants with a notice telling them their court dates.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody was the first one responsible for challenging this policy.
Moody sued the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in 2021, claiming that their policy, officially known as Parole Plus Alternative to Detention, violated a U.S. law called the Immigration and Nationality Act.
According to the lawsuit, her concern was that 100,000 migrants had been released into Florida due to the administration’s policy. She said that this forced the state to acquire considerable costs to provide social services for these newly released individuals.
Former President Trump appointee, Judge Wetherell, obstructed the administration from continuing to administer a 2021 DHS memo that authorized certain “alternatives to detention” to alleviate overcrowding in detention facilities.
Some of these alternatives included cell phone monitoring, ankle bracelets, or random check-ins by immigration officers. Conservative critics described the policy as “catch and release.”
Judge Wetherell said that federal immigration authorities lack the authority to implement these alternatives on a prevalent basis under the existing laws in place and gave the administration just seven days to file an appeal before his decision ensues.
Moody said in a testimony that the judge’s decision “affirms what we have known all along, [that] President Biden is responsible for the border crisis and his unlawful immigration policies make this county less safe.”
The DHS did not promptly respond to their request to comment on this matter.
The administration expressed that they lack the necessary detention capacity and resources needed to process an influx of migrants, but Wednesday’s ruling could create a consequential increase in the number of people detained in these centers.
Florida and 19 other GOP states are separately opposing another administration policy that would permit hundreds of thousands of people from places like Venezuela, Cuba, Haiti, and Nicaragua to be released into the U.S. each year, rather than detained in facilities. The red states have said that this program breaches the statutory limits on the use of parole.