The White House on Friday said that a ruling that blocked the administration’s ability to release migrants without court dates into the interior is an act of “sabotage” just as other administration agencies decried it as “harmful.”
“So let me just say on the ruling that you just laid out to me. So, look, the way we see that it’s sabotage, it’s pure and simple,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said at the White House press briefing. “That’s how that reads to us.”
Jean-Pierre was reacting to a ruling handed down late Thursday which granted a two-week restraining order on the “parole with conditions” policy.
U.S. Border Patrol agents hand out bracelets as they they process asylum-seekers waiting between the double fence along the U.S.-Mexico border near Tijuana, Mexico on Monday in San Diego. (AP Photo/Denis Poroy)
The policy was outlined in a Border Patrol memo this week, which says that migrants can be allowed into the country on parole — a process typically reserved for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit” — if Customs and Border Protection (CBP) faces overcrowding. The memo calls the practice “parole with conditions” as migrants are required to make an appointment with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) or request a Notice to Appear by mail.
Under a parole release, migrants are rapidly released into the country, do not get an alien registration number and do not receive a court date.
The use of parole is being authorized if a sector capacity goes above 125%, if agents apprehend 7,000 a day over 72 hours or if average time in custody goes above 60 hours.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody sued over the move, arguing that it was materially identical” to a “Parole + ATD” policy blocked by the same judge in March. Judge Wetherell agreed with that assessment in his order.
“…The Court has no trouble concluding that Florida has a substantial likelihood of success on the merits because the challenged policy appears to be materially indistinguishable from the Parole+ATD policy vacated in Florida—both in its purpose (reducing overcrowding at border patrol facilities) and manner of operation (releasing aliens into the country without first issuing a charging document placing them in immigration proceedings and simply directing the aliens to report to ICE within a specified period for further processing),” he said.
The order came as migrants surged to the U.S. border as the Title 42 public health order — which allows for the quick removal of migrants due to the COVID-19 pandemic — expired. Agents encountered over 10,000 migrants on multiple days and there were more than 25,000 in custody as of Friday morning.
DHS had warned that blocking the use of parole has the potential to cause chaos at the border, and estimated that doing so would result in an overwhelming 45,000 migrants in custody by the end of May.
The judge said he did not find those arguments persuasive.
“Putting aside the fact that even President Biden recently acknowledged that the border has been in chaos for ‘a number of years,’ Defendants’ doomsday rhetoric rings hollow because, as explained in detail in Florida, this problem is largely one of Defendants’ own making through the adoption an implementation of policies that have encouraged the so-called ‘irregular migration’ that has become fairly regular over the past 2 years,” he said.
Jean-Pierre pushed back on Friday, saying that the claim that “CBP is allowing or encouraging mass release of migrants and is just categorically false, that not what’s occurring.”
“That is not what’s happening. And it is a harmful ruling and the Department of Justice is going to fight it,” she said.
Her comments echoed a Customs and Border Protection (CBP) statement earlier Friday.
“This is a harmful ruling that will result in unsafe overcrowding at CBP facilities and undercut our ability to efficiently process and remove migrants, and risks creating dangerous conditions for Border Patrol agents and migrants. The fact remains that when overcrowding has occurred in Border Patrol facilities, Republican and Democratic Administrations alike have used this parole authority to protect the safety and security of migrants and the workforce,” the statement said.
The Florida lawsuit was followed by a multi-state lawsuit on Friday led by Texas which also challenged the policy — and requested a similar restraining order.
Fox News’ Bill Melugin contributed to this report.