Supreme Court sides with the Biden administration in a fight over immigration

An officer at the border wall.

A U.S. law enforcement officer stands guard by a fence along the U.S.-Mexico border at El Paso, Texas. (Allison Dinner/AFP via Getty Images)

The U.S. Supreme Court handed President Biden’s administration a major victory in a long-running dispute over how to enforce the nation’s immigration laws.

The case concerned the Biden administration’s attempt to set guidelines for whom immigration authorities can target for arrest and deportation. Texas and Louisiana sued to block the guidelines, arguing that they were preventing immigration authorities from doing their jobs.

The Supreme Court held by a vote of 8-1 that the states lacked standing to bring the case in the first place.

There is wide agreement that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement does not have enough resources to detain or deport all of the roughly 11 million people in the country without authorization. So immigration authorities have to set enforcement priorities — and those priorities have swung sharply from one administration to the next.

During former President Trump’s administration, ICE agents and officers were empowered to arrest and deport anyone who was living in the U.S. without legal authorization.

When the Biden administration took office, it put on the brakes. Instead of arresting and deporting anyone they encountered who was in the country without authorization, immigration authorities were given a very different set of priorities.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas described the new guidance as an exercise of prosecutorial discretion.

But the announcement of the Biden administration’s enforcement priorities prompted multiple lawsuits from immigration hardliners. They argue that those guidelines went well beyond what previous administrations had done to limit enforcement.

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