Biden Won’t Stop This Deportation Flight

A federal judge halted a deportation moratorium. But advocates and politicians want the president to stop sending asylum seekers back to war-torn countries like Cameroon.

Yesterday was immigration day for the Biden administration, but today is deportation day. Another flight is set to take off for Cameroon, sending undocumented individuals back to their home country, despite Biden’s promise of a deportation moratorium. You can thank a Trump-appointed federal judge for this circumstance.

Days after taking office, Biden began the 100-day moratorium. But it didn’t last long. A federal judge in Texas temporarily blocked the moratorium, honoring the request of state officials in Texas. The initial temporary restraining order lasted two weeks, and the judge subsequently added another 14 days. The Biden administration can’t appeal the decision until a ruling is officially granted on February 9.

The ruling did not require that the Biden administration immediately deport hundreds of migrants, just that it couldn’t have an explicit moratorium policy. But Wednesday’s scheduled flight to Cameroon and possibly other African countries comes after hundreds of deportations, as Immigration and Customs Enforcement appears to be carrying on as it did under Donald Trump. The Associated Press reported that 15 people were removed to Jamaica on January 28; 269 to Guatemala and Honduras on January 29. One of the women deported last Friday was a witness to the 2019 El Paso massacre at a Walmart, which targeted Latinos and left 23 dead.

The Biden administration deferred comment to the Department of Homeland Security, which did not respond to a request for comment.

Tom Cartwright, a volunteer with Witness at the Border who tracks deportation flights, confirmed the flight data with the Prospect for the Wednesday flight. He said the flight will leave Alexandria, Louisiana, on Wednesday at 3 p.m. and arrive in Cameroon on Thursday.

The Biden administration issued new guidance on deportations, instructing ICE to modify its priorities to focus on deporting those considered a national-security or public-safety threat, or those who had crossed the border recently. The guidance took effect Monday, but it’s unclear whether it will affect the flights scheduled for tomorrow.

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Marcia Brown