supreme court immigration deportation policy The Supreme Court is seen at sundown in Washington, on Nov. 6, 2020. The Supreme Court won't allow the Biden administration to implement a policy that prioritizes deportation of people in the country illegally who pose the greatest public safety risk. The court's order on July 21, 2022, leaves the policy frozen nationwide for now.
(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

The Supreme Court won’t allow the Biden administration to implement a policy that prioritizes deportation of people in the country illegally who pose the most significant public safety risk. 

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The ruling may be confusing to some because why would a Supreme Court—made up of primarily conservative justice—not allow the president to implement a deportation policy? 

Because the Biden administration aimed at deporting those who are actual criminals, not undocumented DREAMers, essential workers, etc. Biden’s deportation ideals mirrored former President Barack Obama’s in which Homeland Security focused on “deporting felons, not families.”

“[The ruling] is a little confusing for folks that might not know about immigration,” Reyna Montoya, founder and CEO of Aliento AZ, said to Copper Courier. “There was something that was called the Priorities Under the Obama Administration, or many people called it the Prosecutorial Discretion, which gives the executive branch, who are the ones who enforced the laws—in this case, the Presidency—that discretion of which cases to prioritize. So you had different levels, and they wanted to focus more on the Department of Homeland Security resources to be processing and deporting folks with a specific threat. So the Supreme Court case is telling President Biden in this administration, “Hey, you actually can’t do that. Whoever you encounter, you should be able to deport them if they’re not here legally.”

The court’s order delivered on July 21 leaves the policy frozen nationwide for now. The vote was 5-4, with conservative Justice Amy Coney Barrett joining liberal Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, and Ketanji Brown Jackson, saying they would have allowed the Biden administration to put in place the guidance.

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The court also announced it would hear arguments in the case, saying they would be in late November. The order is the first public vote by Jackson since she joined the court on June 30 following the retirement of Justice Stephen Breyer.

The justices were acting on the administration’s emergency request to the court following conflicting decisions by federal appeals courts over a September directive from the Homeland Security Department that paused deportation unless individuals had committed acts of terrorism, espionage, or “egregious threats to public safety.”

This new ruling poses an even bigger threat because now, all undocumented people without a criminal record can face deportation. 

“It’s very dangerous and very scary to think about that,” Montoya said. “We’re seeing that the Supreme Court is still more aligned with items that President Trump wanted to execute. And I think it’s really difficult as someone who’s an immigrant, myself, someone who has DACA to think about the DACA program ending, and I would be subject to deportation.” 

Montoya added that the ruling would exasperate the mental health crisis among immigrants

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“We see how PTSD and anxiety are heightened among mixed immigration status families. So we’re not only talking about undocumented people, but it could also be citizens who are their children, who are going to elementary. Having to worry about, are my mom and dad going to pick me up, or will they be deported if they were to be in contact with the police that can lead to potential deportation?”

In a statement Friday, the Department of Homeland Security said that while it awaits a final ruling by the Supreme Court, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers “will make enforcement decisions on a case-by-case basis in a professional and responsible manner, informed by their experience as law enforcement officials and in a way that best protects against the greatest threats to the homeland.”

If you are undocumented or know someone who is and needs help, please call Aliento AZ at 402-302-2783.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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