The Biden administration is being sued by sheriffs and active Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers for its alleged handcuffing of them on enforcing immigration law by restricting arrests and deportation of illegal immigrants.
"The relief we are seeking is that the court order ICE and the Department of Homeland Security to simply follow the law," lawyer Kris Kobach, a Republican running for attorney general of Kansas, said Thursday in Galveston, Texas.
Kobach, arguing on behalf of the sheriffs and ICE agents, notes that "specific laws" already on the books "require them to detain and deport certain illegal aliens," but a Feb. 18 order from the Department of Homeland Security restricting the arrest or deportation of migrants in the U.S. illegally is "unlawful and unconstitutional."
The lawsuit seeks an injunction of that temporary order because it "commands ICE officers to violate the specific terms of federal immigration law."
"Many extremely dangerous illegal aliens who would have been detained prior to the February 18 Memorandum are now not being detained — against the wishes of the ICE officers seeking to detain them, and in violation of federal statutes requiring their detention and/or removal," the lawsuit reads.
The Biden administration DHS restricted ICE officers to focus on arrest and deportation of only three priority groups among immigrants in the country illegally: national security threats, such as suspected terrorists, those who crossed the border after Nov. 1, 2020, and suspected gang members or those convicted of felonies.
Also, ICE agents would first need clearance from a supervisor to do their work to arrest or deport migrants found in the U.S. illegally
ICE deported a record-low 2,962 arrests of illegal immigrants in April, which pales in comparison with the 8,634 monthly average in fiscal 2020, The Epoch Times reported.
"The Feb. 18 Memorandum is unconstitutional because it directs executive officials not to enforce federal law, and not to comply with federal statutes that impose mandatory obligations upon immigration officers," the lawsuit reads.
ICE officers are "rarely granted preapproval for enforcement actions against non-priority aliens," it adds. "The time-consuming paperwork and the low probability of preapproval being granted have caused many ICE officers not to even attempt seeking preapproval."
The Texas sheriffs who signed on the lawsuit include Hudspeth County Sheriff Arvin West, Kinney County Sheriff Brad Coe, Edwards County Sheriff J.W. Guthrie and McMullen County Sheriff Emmett Shelton.
"Since all this began six to eight months ago," Coe said Thursday, according to the Times, "we've seen a drastic increase in human smuggling and what we call foot traffic — those that are walking through the ranches.
"As far as jail space, it's putting a huge dent in my budget. At one time I had up to 18 people in the neighboring county jail. And they were charging me $65 a day per person."
Those named as the defendants in the lawsuit include President Joe Biden, Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, acting ICE Director Tae Johnson, and acting Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Troy Miller.
Those individuals did not reply to the Times' requests for comment on the lawsuit.
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