“Sheriff’s deputies are not able to attend to their normal patrol and other public safety duties because the crime associated with the surge in illegal immigration has consumed their attention and time,” the plaintiffs allege.
The plaintiffs include Sheriffs Brad Coe of Kinney County, J.W. Guthrie of Edwards County, Emmett Shelton of McMullen County, and Arvin West of Hudspeth County. The counties of Kinney, Edwards, McMullen, and Hudspeth are also plaintiffs in the suit, which was filed in the Galveston Division of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
The defendants in the suit include President Biden and U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, as well as a number of other officials and agencies responsible for enforcing immigration laws.
The lawsuit blasts a memorandum distributed to all ICE employees on February 18, 2021, by ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson that directs them to decline to place illegal aliens on a path to expulsion “unless they fall into very narrow categories.” According to the lawsuit, “those cases consist principally of illegal aliens who pose a national security or terrorist threat to the United States,” individuals who have arrived since November 1, 2020, or those who have committed other specified crimes.
“This standdown in ICE enforcement has fueled a crisis at the border and in other Texas counties, encouraging a massive surge in illegal immigration,” the lawsuits states.
In addition to the public safety risk of illegal immigration, the lawsuit also points to the fiscal impact that is befalling local governments.
“Detaining illegal alien criminals imposes significant costs upon the Plaintiff sheriffs and counties. These costs include the financial cost of detention and the consumption of scarce county law enforcement resources,” the lawsuit reads.
“Those detention costs have already increased substantially since the implementation of the February 18 Memorandum and will continue to remain elevated as a result of Defendants’ failure to detain and/or remove illegal aliens, particularly those involved in criminal activity, because it increases the number of criminal illegal aliens that Plaintiff sheriffs and counties must detain.”
The court documents say “arrests and removals” have dropped to one-third of what they were before Biden took office due to Johnson’s memorandum. The plaintiffs cite a report from The Washington Post that indicated ICE performed “fewer than 3,000 arrests, the lowest number on record” in April, which means each of ICE’s 6,000 officers is averaging one arrest every two months. This is contrasted with an average of 8,634 arrests monthly by ICE in Fiscal Year 2020.
The lawsuit claims the February 18 memo violates immigration statutes, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the U.S. Constitution’s direction to the executive branch in Art. II, Sec. 3 “faithfully to execute the law.”
Vice President Kamala Harris, who is the White House’s policy lead on immigration, has said that the administration is focused on the “root causes of migration,” such as conditions in Central America. She recently took a trip to El Paso, where she expressed optimism about the administration’s “extreme progress.”
A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted from June 27-30 showed that 33 percent of American adults approved of Biden’s handling of immigration, 51 percent disapproved, and 16 percent had no opinion. The poll’s margin of error was give or take 3.5 percent.
A copy of the lawsuit can be found below.