On Tuesday, the Supreme Court struggled to decide whether to revive immigration enforcement guidelines issued by the Biden administration that had set priorities for deciding which unauthorized immigrants should be arrested and detained.
The guidelines, issued last year in a memo, focused on “national security, public safety and border security.” The memo also gave Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents substantial discretion to decide whether enforcement actions were warranted.
Texas and Louisiana filed suit to block the guidelines, which they said allowed many immigrants with criminal records to remain free while their cases moved forward, imposing burdens on the states’ justice systems and violating a federal law that they said made detentions mandatory.
Solicitor General Elizabeth B. Prelogar told the justices that the Department of Homeland Security must be able to set priorities. “There are more than 11 million removable noncitizens in this country, and D.H.S. has about 6,000 interior enforcement officers,” she said, adding that the federal government does not have the resources to apprehend and seek to deport all unauthorized immigrants.