U.S. Supreme Court Resoundingly Upholds Executive Authority on Immigration Enforcement Priorities, Rejects State Challenge

June 23, 2023
Last modified: 
June 23, 2023

WASHINGTON—Today, the U.S. Supreme Court held in an 8-1 decision that states do not have the authority to challenge the executive branch’s authority to establish enforcement priorities, which directs U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents to primarily focus on people it considers to be a threat to public safety, national security, or border security. The Court ruled that courts do not have the authority to order law enforcement to carry out arrests and deportation. The Court declined to rule on the substantive questions of immigration law.

The lawsuit, United States v. Texas, brought by Texas and Louisiana questioned the immigration enforcement guidelines issued by Department of Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas in September 2021. A federal court in Texas vacated the guidelines nationwide—a decision upheld by a court of appeals.

United States v. Texas required the Court to weigh into the federal government’s authority to exercise prosecutorial discretion—the right to decide who to arrest and remove. For decades—across Democratic and Republican administrations—written priorities have been essential for effective immigration enforcement. 

The following statement is from Kate Melloy Goettel, legal director of the American Immigration Council:

“Rooted in the constitutional principle of separation of powers, today’s decision on enforcement priorities upholds the common-sense principle that courts should not interfere with decisions by law enforcement agencies like the Department of Homeland Security to prioritize their limited resources on more serious cases. As a result, Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas’ enforcement priorities will go back into effect, permitting DHS officers to exercise greater discretion to consider the interests of justice when making decisions about immigration enforcement. By rejecting Texas’ standing to bring the lawsuit, the Supreme Court is sending a powerful message that courts should not be in the business of directing law enforcement’s decision-making and should give pause to states contemplating using the courts to drive a political strategy.”



For more information, contact:

 Maria Frausto at the American Immigration Council, [email protected] or 202-507-7526.

Media Contact

Elyssa Pachico
[email protected]

Most Read

  • Publications
  • Blog Posts
  • Past:
  • Trending