Hawley and colleagues demand answers on Biden’s Department of Homeland Security deportation moratorium

Josh Hawley official Congressional photo

U.S. Senator Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) and eleven Senate colleagues pushed back on a deportation moratorium proposed by President Biden’s Department of Homeland Security, which will prevent the removal of the vast majority of illegal immigrants with final orders of removal–including dangerous criminals–from the United States.

The moratorium was proposed in a January 21 memorandum issued by DHS, purportedly to focus resources on border security and conduct immigration and asylum processing at the southern border. Immigration and Customs Enforcement enforcement and removal officers, whose operations would be severely impacted by the January 21 memorandum, aren’t trained to handle either of those duties normally handled by completely different DHS component agencies. The deportation moratorium has been temporarily enjoined by a federal district court in Texas but is poised for implementation if that injunction is lifted.

“Those seemingly harmless words mask what this memorandum actually does: it turns our nation of laws into a nation of loopholes. It is an insult to the men and women of DHS who have sworn to uphold those laws,” the senators wrote of the proposal. “…The Department’s January 21 memorandum creates, in our view, an unacceptable threat to public safety; constitutes a disregard for the rule of law and the will of Congress; and undercuts the integrity of the immigration enforcement regime.”

In a letter to newly-confirmed DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas and Acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, the senators raise serious rule of law and public safety concerns. The senators also press the officials to provide information about the number of criminal illegal immigrants currently subject to removal, and whether all illegal immigrants currently subject to removal and charged with or convicted of homicide, sex crimes, robbery, kidnapping or domestic violence would still be eligible for removal under the proposed moratorium.

The letter is also signed by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), and James Lankford (R-Okla.).

The full text of the letter follows or can be found here.