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AG Marshall criticizes president’s deferment of deporting Palestinians

Marshall called Biden’s decision to delay deporting Palestinians because of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza another of his “illegal amnesties.”

Attorney General Steve Marshall gives a speech during the inaugural ceremony on Jan. 16, 2023. Inauguration Committee/Bryan Carter
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Last week, eighteen state attorneys general, including Alabama Attorney General Steve Marshall, sent a letter to President Biden criticizing his choice to defer the deportation of Palestinians in the United States.

“Though we are in the midst of a well-recognized immigration crisis caused by President Biden’s disastrous policies, Biden continues to press for even more open borders,” Marshall said. “Now he is refusing to remove Palestinians who are in the U.S. illegally, granting them automatic release from the Department of Homeland Security.”

On February 20, President Biden issued an executive order granting Palestinians Deferred Enforced Departure status for 18 months, with a list of several key exceptions.

Namely, Palestinians convicted of “any felony or two or more misdemeanors committed in the United States,” who voluntarily leave the U.S. after the order, or whose presence “is not in the interest of the United States or presents a danger to public safety” can still be deported.

Biden specifically cited the “humanitarian conditions in the Palestinian territories, and primarily Gaza,” as the reason for the executive order.

The day after the executive order was issued, the director-general of the World Health Organization told reporters that “Gaza has become a death zone.” During the ongoing war, almost all of the hospitals in Gaza have been damaged or destroyed, medical aid has been kept out of the region, and tens of thousands of Palestinians have been killed.

While Marshall said the February executive order was the latest in Biden’s “press for even more open borders,” Biden has adopted a more hawkish immigration policy in the lead up to the presidential election.

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Earlier this month, he issued an executive order to pause crossings at the Southern border, which was panned by Alabama Senators Katie Britt and Tommy Tuberville, as well as both liberals and other conservatives.

The attorneys general criticized Biden’s choice to defer the deportation of Palestinians on two main grounds. They called it an unconstitutional usurpation of Congressional authority and claimed it would exacerbate antisemitism.

Quoting an article in the New York Times, the attorneys general said Biden “[has], at most, only ‘an obscure immigration authority’ to defer the removal of Palestinians.”

While it may be obscure, Deferred Enforced Departure has a more than three decade history: It was first used to protect Chinese nationals by President George H.W. Bush in 1990. President Trump both extended DED protections for Liberians and extended them to Venezuelans during his presidency.

The AGs also referenced student protestors who praised Hamas. Marshall said Biden “continues to favor the demands of radical activists over the needs of the American people.” In the conclusion to their letter, they referenced a December 2023 poll of Palestinians living in Gaza and the West Bank which found that 72 percent of Palestinians said Hamas’ decision to invade Israel was “correct.”

However, no specific link was made to the Palestinians living in America that the executive order actually affects.

As previously mentioned, any Palestinian convicted of a felony or misdemeanors and whose presence “is not in the interest of the United States or presents a danger to public safety” or “would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences” is not protected by the order.

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Saying Biden’s executive order “may very well fuel the antisemitic conflagration burning on university campuses and across our Nation,” the attorneys general urged the president to “reverse the decision to defer [Palestinians’] removal from the United States.”

Chance Phillips is a reporting intern at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can reach him at [email protected].

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