The Immigration Reform Law Institute on Thursday filed a lawsuit to end President Joe Biden‘s policy to catch and release illegal aliens at the US-Mexico border and to suspend internal immigration enforcement, according to a press release.
“The Biden policies we challenge here are as lawless as lawless can be,” said Dale L. Wilcox, executive director and general counsel of IRLI.
The legal complaint challenges two Biden administration policies, which the plaintiffs claim rewrite rather than interpret and apply federal immigration law.
The first issue concerns a Department of Homeland Security memo, issued by the Acting DHS Secretary on Biden’s first day in office, that established immigration enforcement priorities.
These priorities limited immigration enforcement’s role to protecting narrowly-defined national security, border security, and public safety interests.
The memo effectively directed the federal government to suspend all immigration enforcement except at the Southern border.
The enforcement memo states that immigration agents should only arrest, charge, and deport illegal aliens who crossed into the United States after 1 Nov. 2020.
Illegal aliens who have settled in the American interior—even if they have committed crimes in addition to illegal entry—will not be pursued.
IRLI said the memo prevents immigration agents from arresting the “vast majority of aliens,” even those who “the law clearly states must be detained and removed.”
Furthermore, Acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske issued the enforcement memo without following the Administrative Procedures Act, which requires departments and agencies to give notice and allow for public comments before changing policies.
IRLI has also challenged an Immigration and Customs Enforcement policy that further narrows the enforcement memo’s already limited scope.
Acting Director of ICE Tae Johnson issued a memo on 18 Feb. 2021, again in violation of the APA, that clarified the DHS memo.
Johnson directed immigration agents to remove only three categories of illegal aliens: “terrorists, spies, or other national security risks,” “recent arrivals” (after 1 Nov. 2020), and “aggravated felons and criminal gang members.”
Yet the policy gives agents the authority to determine “whether to stop, question, or arrest” illegal aliens who may fall into these categories.
These two policies create an immigration system in which agents do not have the authority to arrest the vast majority of illegal aliens and do not have the duty to arrest the minority of dangerous illegal aliens.
“Defendants are no longer requiring officers to detain or initiate removal proceedings against large numbers of illegal aliens whose detention and/or removal is required by federal law,” IRLI wrote in the lawsuit.
In enacting these policies, IRLI claims that the Biden administration did not consider the resulting injury to “States, counties, county sheriffs, their respective offices, or the public.”
IRLI filed the lawsuit, Coe v. Biden, on behalf of Texas sheriffs, Texas counties, and an organization that represents immigration agents.
“We applaud the plaintiffs for standing up and fighting for their counties against this influx of illegal aliens and crime,” Wilcox said. “If Biden’s border stand-down is to be reversed, it must be in the courts, and we remain dedicated to doing all we can to bring the administration to justice and protect America.”