Texas AG sues over halt of migrant deportation by Biden administration

Border Report Tour

Guatemalans deported from the U.S., wearing a mask as a precaution against the spread of the coronavirus, line up to board a bus after arriving at La Aurora airport in Guatemala City, Tuesday, June 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Moises Castillo)

McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Calling it unconstitutional and a violation of federal immigration laws and an agreement between the State of Texas and the Department of Homeland Security, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration’s plan to halt some deportations of migrants.

โ€œIn one of its first of dozens of steps that harm Texas and the nation as a whole, the Biden administration directed DHS to violate federal immigration law and breach an agreement to consult and cooperate with Texas on that law. Our state defends the largest section of the southern border in the nation. Failure to properly enforce the law will directly and immediately endanger our citizens and law enforcement personnel,โ€ Paxton said.

Our state defends the largest section of the southern border in the nation. Failure to properly enforce the law will directly and immediately endanger our citizens and law enforcement personnel.โ€

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Paxton, a Republican, on Thursday had warned Texas would sue if the Biden administration on Friday began implementing new deportation removal orders regarding migrants.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

The new rules are temporary and are to be in place for no longer than 100 days and focus on deporting migrants who are a threat to national security, linked to terrorism or espionage, were recently incarcerated, and those apprehended without proper documentation in border regions.

Because of Title 42 travel restrictions still in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus into the United States, the Southwest border region is largely exempt from any pause in deportations, officials told Border Report.

The new orders were laid out in a memo sent Wednesday by new DHS Acting Secretary David Pekoske to leaders of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Border Patrol and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agencies.

The memo deemed the border region a “high-priority enforcement” zone and said expulsions of noncitizens found trying to unlawfully cross into the United States without proper documents on or after Nov. 1, 2020 would continue.

โ€œDHS itself has previously acknowledged that such a freeze on deportations will cause concrete injuries to Texas. I am confident that these unlawful and perilous actions cannot stand. The rule of law and security of our citizens must prevail,” Paxton said Friday.

The complaint and motion for temporary restraining order was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas against Pekoske, and other DHS officials. It accuses the Biden administration of “cast(ing) aside congressionally enacted immigration laws and suspended the removal of illegal aliens whose removal is compelled by those very laws. In doing so, it ignored basic constitutional principles and violated its written pledge to work cooperatively with the State of Texas to address shared immigration enforcement concerns. This unlawful reversal will cause Texas immediate and irreparable harm if it is not enjoined.”

Paxton is asking the court to immediately freeze the halt on deportations.

Joshua Rubin, cofounder of the grassroots advocacy group Witness At The Border, which monitors deportations and expulsions of migrants, said that as of 2 p.m. CST Friday there were no ICE Air charter flights that departed from U.S. airports.

“None of them took off. Not a one,” Rubin told Border Report.

Ken Cuccinelli
Acting Deputy Secretary for the Department of Homeland Security Ken Cuccinelli speaks about the coronavirus outside the West Wing of the White House, Friday, March 20, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As to the complaint filed by Paxton, Rubin charged the agreement made with Texas was between former Acting Homeland Security Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli, who the Government Accountability Office in August said was not eligible to serve in that post and was an “invalid order of succession” under the Vacancies Reform Act.

“I believe it’s not worth the paper it’s written on. It was an agreement between himself and Cuccinelli so I suspect it’s a waste of Texans’ taxpayer money because it was an agreement between Cucinelli and the state and they certainly don’t have that right,” Rubin said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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