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Summary

The State of Florida filed this case in September 2021 to challenge decades-long practices of the federal government whereby some asylum seekers are released from detention while the federal government adjudicates their claims for humanitarian protection (which often takes years).  Florida claims that these practices substantively conflict with immigration statutes and that, even if they are substantively permissible, they did not go through proper procedures.  Florida seeks an order compelling the Biden Administration to comply with Florida’s interpretation of the immigration statutes and to detain asylum seekers while their claims are decided.

On January 18, 2022, Judge Wetherell denied the Biden Administration’s motion to transfer this case to the Tallahassee Division, rather than the Pensacola Division where Florida filed it; and on March 11, he denied the Biden Administration’s request to stay (pause) this case until after the Supreme Court issues a decision in the Texas “Remain in Mexico” case, in which the Supreme Court is expected to resolve at least some legal questions that are relevant to Florida’s claims here.

On May 4, 2022,  Judge Wetherell denied the Biden Administration’s motion to dismiss Florida’s claims.  On August 12, 2022, Florida filed a second amended complaint.

Following discovery, the parties briefed cross-motions for summary judgment (meaning that each side has filed a motion requesting that the Court enter judgment for them without a trial). On November 18, 2022, Judge Wetherell issued an order denying both motions for summary judgment, holding that a bench trial would be necessary to resolve disputed issues of fact.

The four-day bench trial took place in Pensacola, Florida from January 9 through 12, 2023. Post-trial briefs are due February 9, 2023.  Sometime thereafter, Judge Wetherell will issue a decision resolving Florida’s claims.

Technical Summary

Florida’s amended complaint targets one or more alleged policies of “refusing to detain arriving aliens,” which Florida claims conflicts with 8 U.S.C. § 1225(b)(1)-(2) and relies on an unlawful misuse of the parole authority in 8 U.S.C. § 1182(d)(5).  Florida also claims the alleged policies violate the Administrative Procedure Act’s prohibition of arbitrary and capricious agency action and its notice-and-comment requirement; as well as the Take Care Clause (which requires the President to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed”).
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