Arizona and Montana have filed to expand a lawsuit against the Biden administration — arguing some of President Biden’s immigration policies will bring devastating harm to border communities.
The initial lawsuit, filed in early February solely by Arizona, was focused on challenging President Biden’s attempt to impose an 100-day moratorium on migrant deportations.
Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen joined the updated lawsuit after Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich reframed it around interim guidance issued by Immigration and Customs Enforcement last month.
That guidance allows ICE officers to focus on three categories for arrest and deportation: those who pose a threat to national security, those who have crossed the border since Nov. 1 and those who have committed “aggravated felonies.”
In the initial suit, Brnovich had argued that under President Biden, the federal government was in violation of an agreement border states had made with the Trump-era DHS.
The agreement ensured that border states would be consulted on significant changes to DHS policy.
With Biden’s 100-day moratorium on deportations, Brnovich argued, the president had violated an agreement that was still technically in place despite there being a new administration.
“We expanded our previously filed lawsuit against DHS over its new immigration policy that halts nearly all deportations for 100 days, even those charged with or convicted of crimes. @MTAGKnudsen joins lawsuit on behalf of Montana,” Brnovich wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning, adding that a preliminary injunction had been filed.
“Blindly releasing thousands of people, including convicted criminals and those that may be spreading COVID-19, is both unconscionable and a violation of federal law,” he continued, “This must be stopped now to avoid a dangerous humanitarian crisis.”
“DHS did not consult with states about the anticipated effects and costs of the new Moratorium, including the number of individuals with final removal orders who will be released from ICE custody and the detrimental impacts on public safety, health, state and local finances.”
News of the lawsuit comes as the president faces a burgeoning crisis at the US-Mexico border.
Biden, in undoing his predecessor’s border initiatives, has set off a new surge at the US border of Central American and Mexican illegal migrants, including thousands of unescorted children.
In his first month in office, Biden ended construction of Trump’s signature border wall and began to end the “Remain in Mexico” policy under which about 71,000 Central American asylum applicants were awaiting rulings in Mexico.
He issued an order affirming the 2012 Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, which gives work permits and protection from deportation to people brought illegally to the US as minors.
He also proposed legislation that would create a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million illegal immigrants in the US.
While insisting that the border was not facing a crisis, DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas said while speaking to reporters earlier this month that the problems the agency did face should be blamed on the previous administration — despite data showing migrants flooding the border because they believe Biden will welcome them with open arms.
While not outwardly acknowledging the problem, an email sent by Mayorkas to Homeland Security staffers and obtained by Fox News this week showed that he was aware of the “overwhelming” surge in migrants approaching the border — even going as far as to request support from volunteer forces.
A DHS spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.