“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,” said Paxton in a press release.
“DHS 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,” he added.
Paxton warned Pekoske in a letter sent on Thursday that he would file a lawsuit against the Biden administration if the memorandum was not immediately rescinded.
Pekoske issued the memorandum after Biden’s inauguration on Wednesday and ordered a “100-day pause on certain removals to enable focusing the Department’s resources on where they are most needed,” which was supposed to go into effect “no later than January 22, 2021.”
The pause on deportations does not include those who the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has found to be engaged or “suspected of terrorism, or otherwise poses to the national security of the United States,” those who were not in the United States before November 1, 2020, those who have waived “any rights to remain” in the U.S., and those who officials have determined removal is required by law.
Paxton argues in the suit that the memorandum is a violation of an agreement signed between the State of Texas and DHS, which was signed by Paxton, Governor Greg Abbott, and Ken Cuccinelli, who was the senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary of DHS for the latter half of the Trump administration.
The agreement stipulates that in exchange for Texas’ assistance with border security and immigration enforcement, DHS would “consult Texas and consider its views before taking any action, adopting or modifying a policy or procedure, or making any decision that could,” among a list of other things, “otherwise negatively impact Texas.”
Included in the list of required instances for DHS to consult Texas is if the department changes a policy to “reduce, redirect, reprioritize, relax, or in any way modify immigration enforcement.”
“Prior to issuing yesterday’s memorandum, however, DHS did not contact Texas at all, much less comply with the notice and consultation requirements of our Agreement,” wrote Paxton.
The attorney general also argued that a “broad ‘pause’ on the removal of illegal aliens does not ‘promote…removal,” as DHS committed to in the agreement signed by Cuccinelli.
Under the agreement, Texas is entitled “to injunctive relief, including specific performance, to enforce such obligations.”
Alongside the lawsuit, Paxton also requested the court to issue a temporary restraining order to allow deportations to continue while the case is handled.