Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, joined by the state of Louisiana, has filed suit against the federal government, alleging that the Biden administration is allowing immigrants who have been convicted of crimes to be released at the end of their sentences, rather than being held for deportation proceedings.
More specifically, the suit claims that immigration officials have not requested, or have dropped requests that state prisons hold such immigrants rather than releasing them into the community. This week, three more facilities have opened in Texas to hold swelling numbers of young migrants apprehended by border officials. On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas is scheduled to visit El Paso and McAllen to assess the situation in those border cities.
Richard Pineda is director of the Sam Donaldson Center for Communication Studies at the University of Texas-El Paso. He told Texas Standard that the Biden administration is struggling to address the situation at the border.
“The truth is, regardless of your political stance, the Biden administration has been caught flat-footed on immigration,” Pineda said.
He said the optics of large numbers of migrants detained near the border are a problem for the administration, which pledged to end the Trump administration policies that resulted in thousands of migrants housed in substandard conditions near the border in Texas, and in Mexico.
Whether the situation is a “crisis,” as many Republican critics of President Joe Biden have said, or a “challenge” as the president’s supporters have termed it, Pineda characterizes some reactions to increased migration as “political theater,” and notes that border crossing numbers are cyclical, changing with the occupant of the White House and with the seasons. He also acknowledges that support service providers on the border are feeling “pushed” by the increase in the number of migrants arriving, who need assistance.
Pineda says Paxton has “done a little venue shopping,” filing his lawsuit in a federal district court where he has had success before.
“The question becomes whether or not the attorney general has the goods beyond the first federal judge,” he said.
In other words, will an appeals court take Paxton’s side, or Biden’s?