Opponents of a Department of Homeland Security directive easing deportation rules for illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as children asked for a court order blocking the edict nationwide.
President Barack Obama on June 15 announced the policy change, which would affect about 800,000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. before age 16, who have been in the country for at least five years, have no criminal record and are in school or have obtained a high school diploma or its equivalent.
In papers filed yesterday with U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor in Dallas, 10 federal immigration agents and other opponents of the directive argued that Congress stripped Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agents of discretion in 1996 and that those plaintiffs now face irreparable harm unless the new directive is blocked.
“The defendants’ actions place the ICE agent plaintiffs on the horns of a dilemma,” according to the papers filed today by attorney Kris W. Kobach. “They must either comply with federal law and face disciplinary actions, or ignore the requirements of federal law and participate in the administration of an illegal program.”
Kobach, who is the Kansas secretary of state, has also been a Republican Party advocate for tougher policies against illegal immigration.
Mississippi joined the litigation last month.
“States must protect their borders while the federal government continues to ignore this growing problem,” Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant said then in a statement.
“I believe this action by the Obama administration is unconstitutional and circumvents Congress’s authority,” Bryant said. “The fact remains that illegal immigration is a real issue with real consequences, and ignoring the rule of law is irresponsible.”
The immigration agents and Mississippi, in their revised complaint filed on Oct. 10, accused Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and other federal customs and immigration officials of promulgating a “deferred action” plan that would place the agents at risk of job discipline for violating federal law while forcing the state to “bear the foreseeable fiscal cost” of illegal aliens residing there.
The U.S. Justice Department on Nov. 13 asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, arguing that neither the ICE agents nor Mississippi have legal standing to pursue what the federal government called “generalized policy objections.”
“Federal courts sit to decide cases and controversies, not to resolve disagreements about policy or politics,” lawyers for the Justice Department said in that filing. They argued that state and the immigration enforcement agents hadn’t claimed any “particularized and personally-experienced” injuries resulting from the deferred action policy.
Charles Miller, a spokesman for the Justice Department, declined to comment on the injunction request.
The case is Crane v. Napolitano, 3:12-cv-03247, U.S. District Court, Northern District of Texas (Dallas).