The Texas attorney general, Ken Paxton, celebrated the temporary injunction on Mr. Biden’s arrest priorities, calling it “another Texas victory against Biden.”
Texas is a party in both cases and has borne the brunt of the unusually high number of illegal border crossings this year, with many migrant families and children from Central America arriving in the state’s Rio Grande Valley and overwhelming border officials. The state has taken several actions to challenge the Biden administration’s immigration policies; earlier this summer, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, directed state law enforcement officials to start arresting migrants for trespassing to address illegal immigration — because, he said, the Biden administration was not.
Alejandro N. Mayorkas, the homeland security secretary, has been working to draft permanent arrest priorities for ICE, which would replace the interim ones currently being challenged. It was not immediately clear if the judge’s ruling would also apply to any final arrest priorities the administration imposed.
If the Biden administration is not able to continue its strategy for immigration arrests, the shift will likely further strain an immigration detention system that is already near capacity. Arrests by ICE are down by more than half so far this year, compared to the same period in 2020, according to immigration statistics, in part because of pandemic-driven rules about limiting the number of people in congregate settings and the temporary arrest priorities.
Mr. Wong said that even if Republicans succeeded in challenging the arrest priorities, it would not change the reality that there was not sufficient detention space.
“And so policies of ‘enforcement en masse’ don’t take into account the finite resources,” he said, “including limited detention capacity.”
The administration is also waiting for a judge to rule on a lawsuit that would prevent it from continuing a public health rule that the Trump administration put in place early in the pandemic to turn away many asylum-seeking families arriving at the border. Immigration advocates filed the lawsuit last year, and at the time, Vice President Kamala Harris, then a senator from California and presidential candidate, argued against the rule.