Attorney General Ashley Moody goes to court to halt Biden administration policies over immigration

By: - March 9, 2021 12:52 pm

Congressman Al Lawson addresses a crowd who gathered to protest Trump administration immigration policies in front of the Florida Capitol in Tallahassee. Photo by Mitch Perry

In a lawsuit to halt new federal immigration policies by President Joe Biden, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody claims the president and his administration “violated their oaths of office, flouted Congressional statutes, failed to protect U.S. citizens and immigrants alike, and created what will quickly become a public-safety nightmare.”

Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody. Credit: Official photo, office of Attorney General

The Republican attorney general states in the lawsuit that the “Biden Administration cannot simply order federal immigration officials to ignore the clear commands of Congress,” according to the 28-page court filing in the U.S. District Court Middle District of Florida, Tampa division.

The lawsuit, filed Monday, was provided to the media Tuesday in a news release.

Moody, represented by the state of Florida, is asking the court to “immediately halt new federal immigration policies jeopardizing the safety of Floridians and immigrant victims.”

The lawsuit says that for two decades, both Democrat and Republican administrations “detained and removed criminal aliens,” describing what was considered a bipartisan and uncontroversial practice.

But on Jan. 20, 2021, the day Biden took office, the president issued an executive order to review the federal government’s existing immigration policies; cease virtually all civil immigration enforcement, with some exceptions, and order “an immediate pause on removals of any noncitizen with a final of removal…for 100 days, subject to narrow exceptions.”

As the result of the Biden policies, Moody’s lawsuit says that the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) “is refusing to take custody of scores of criminal aliens across the State—resulting in their release into Florida—and it will only get worse.”

“The Florida Department of Corrections already reports seven instances of ICE refusing to take custody of serious criminals upon release from state custody,” the lawsuits states.

The lawsuit asks the court to take several actions, including holding Biden’s policies as unlawful and blocking those policies.

Defendants in the lawsuit are U.S. officials, including Alejandro Mayorkas, secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

In December, Attorney General Moody joined a friend-of-the court brief in support of Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s request that the U.S. Supreme Court overrule presidential election returns in four states and let those states’ legislatures decide the outcome.

The outcome was that Joe Biden won the presidency.

You can see the lawsuit.

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Diane Rado
Diane Rado

Diane Rado has covered state and local government and public schools in six states over some 30 years, focusing on policy and investigative stories as well as legislative and political reporting. She spent most of her career at the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times and the Chicago Tribune. She has a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and did a fellowship in education reform at the University of Michigan in 1999-2000. She is married to a journalist and has three adult children.

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