Florida’s AG Sues Biden Over Immigration With Title 42 Expiring


TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody sued the Biden Administration on Thursday seeking to prevent the federal government from carrying out its latest immigration plan when the Covid-era Title 42 rules soon expire.

In the latest scrap between Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden over immigration, Florida officials are asking a federal judge to postpone the policies that the state argues are “unquestionably cynical.”

With the Biden Administration set for a massive influx of asylum seekers arriving at the southern border Friday, a federal judge in Pensacola pressed them to respond by Thursday afternoon — only partially granting a time extension for responding to the lawsuit.

“It is inconceivable that [the Biden administration] waited until yesterday to formulate this policy, particularly since they have known for quite some time that the Title 42 Order was going to expire tonight,” U.S. District Judge T. Kent Wetherell wrote in an order Thursday.

Attorneys for the Biden administration on Thursday afternoon urged Wetherell to deny Florida’s attempt to block the polices they contend are “necessary to address an imminent and dramatic increase [of[] arrivals at the southwest border.”

“The Court should deny this request to limit the Executive’s authority to carry out a core Executive function, managing the border, particularly on an emergency basis without the benefit of full briefing on the eve of an expected dramatic increase in arrivals at the border,” they wrote in a motion opposing the move.

The lawsuit from the DeSantis administration is a sequel to a previous legal battle that played out just a few months ago when the same judge in March ordered federal immigration authorities to revamp one key policy that he said runs counter to federal law.

Title 42 is a reference a section of the U.S. Code addressing public health, social welfare and civil rights that the Trump administration in 2020 implemented to turn people away at the border on public health grounds amid the pandemic. But with this expiring May 11, The Biden administration is preparing to release migrants in the U.S. on “parole,” with the understanding they are to report to an Immigration and Customs Enforcement office. A major influx of people are expected to flood the border in the coming days.

Through the lawsuit filed Thursday, Florida is attempting to spur the Biden administration — Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and other federal officials — to explain how their latest immigration plan does not violate that March ruling.

“The Mexican drug cartels have more to say about what goes on in the southern border than our own U.S. government does,” DeSantis said Wednesday at a bill signing.

Wetherell in his Thursday order compelling a response from the feds suggested it “appears that DHS is preparing to flout the Court’s order,” noting that the new policy “sounds virtually identical” to the one that the court vacated months ago.

But attorneys for the Biden administration disagree, arguing that there are “important distinctions” between the two policies — notably that “grant of parole is time limited and the policy focuses to an even greater degree on ensuring the health and safety of individuals.” They defended the federal government’s response on immigration and asked the judge to allow for a hearing before making a decision and for a temporary court stay if he does rule.

“DHS is exercising all available authority to address the anticipated surge in migrants, but its available staffing and facilities to safely process and issue charging documents to record numbers of new arrivals are limited,” wrote the Biden legal team including Brian Boynton, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General. “In the face of an imminent crisis, DHS must make use of all available statutory authority Congress has granted it to process migrants, including parole.”

Florida, along with other Republican-led states such as Texas, has been sharply critical of immigration policies pursued by the Biden administration. DeSantis, who is expected to run for president, pushed for the creation of a contentious migrant relocation program that resulted in the state flying nearly 50 migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard last September and is now gearing up for more flights in the coming days.

In the latest lawsuit, Moody’s office is seeking to shut down the federal immigration policies through a temporary restraining order, a preliminary injunction, an order postponing the effective date. Moody also filed an emergency motion for a temporary restraining order.

“The gall of Biden to thumb his nose at a federal court order and proceed with an unlawful plan to allow what amounts to an invasion at our Southwest Border is not only unprecedented, it is dangerous,” Moody said in a statement.