Lawsuit points to memo related to end of Title 42
By BETHANY BLANKLEY
THE CENTER SQUARE CONTRIBUTOR
(The Center Square) — In anticipation of increased border encounters after the Title 42 health authority is lifted, U.S. Border Patrol Chief Raul Ortiz instructed agents to release noncitizens into the U.S. because there would not be enough space to detain them, a memo obtained as part of Florida’s lawsuit against the Biden administration uncovered.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said the memo is more “devastating evidence” that continues to be obtained about “President Joe Biden’s failed immigration policies.”
In a recent deposition, Chief Ortiz admitted the southern border is “currently in a crisis.” Despite that, in a May 19 memo, he instructed CBP agents to release “processed noncitizens in the vicinity of nongovernmental organizations” and coordinate with NGOs in advance as to the specific locations where they’d be released, “paying particular attention to the availability of services and transportation options.”
Attorney General Moody denounced the message contained in the memo.
“The Biden administration’s failed immigration policies are disastrous,” Ms. Moody said. “Expecting to be overrun, Biden’s Border Patrol drafted a plan to hunker down and allow inadmissible immigrants to flood into the country. But for the efforts of our office and other responsibly-minded, public-safety oriented attorneys general, Title 42 would have been repealed, and Biden would have released untold thousands of additional immigrants into the interior of our country – outrageous!”
The memo continued:
“If safe locations are not available” to release illegal foreign nationals, instead of processing them for removal, Chief Ortiz said CBP would “engage with nearby cities and local governments to identify alternate safe locations for release.”
They were also instructed to be released into the U.S. in a “safe, humane and orderly manner,” not “late at night in an unpopulated area or in circumstances in which the individual would face a known safety risk.”
The only thing stopping CBP from enacting the policy was an injunction put in place by a federal court halting the administration from ending Title 42 one day after the memo was issued. Title 42 is a Trump-era directive to return illegal immigrants to Mexico during the COVID-19 pandemic.
On May 20, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana enjoined the repeal of Title 42 in a case filed by 24 states, including Florida, issuing a nationwide injunction.
Florida’s lawsuit was filed Feb. 1 in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida Pensacola Division. It names the United States of America, Department of Homeland Security and its Secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and its commissioner, Chris Magnus, U.S. immigration and Customs Enforcement, and its acting director, Tae Johnson, and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and its director, Ur Jaddou, as defendants.
While some entering the U.S. illegally have legitimate asylum claims, the lawsuit alleges “many do not. Some are gang members and drug traffickers exploiting the immigration crisis, as evidenced by the skyrocketing amount of fentanyl being seized at the border.”