Four Texas sheriffs as well as an association of Immigrations and Customs Enforcement officers sued the Biden administration last week over claims that its change in policy on deportations "is allowing 'extremely dangerous illegal aliens' to be released onto the streets."
On Feb. 18, President Joe Biden issued a memo "directing ICE to focus on deporting immigrants who are national security or terrorist threats, gang members, those who have been convicted of certain aggravated felonies and any that entered the country after Nov. 1," according to Courthouse News.
"According to the February 18 Memorandum, taking any enforcement action against illegal aliens falling outside of these narrow priority categories requires an ICE officer to obtain preapproval from a high-ranking field office director or special agent in charge before taking action," the lawsuit states.
"The ICE officer must go through the time consuming and usually futile process of 'rais[ing] a written justification through the chain of command, explaining why the action otherwise constitutes a justified allocation of limited resources, and identify the date, time, and location the enforcement action or removal is expected to take place,'" the lawsuit continues.
Sheriffs from Hudspeth, Kinney, Edwards, and McMullen counties claim that the decrease in deportations has resulted in an increase in their crime-response costs "because immigrants who are released commit more crimes, and it 'encourages additional criminal aliens' to enter the U.S. illegally," Courthouse News writes.
The lawsuit claims that the Biden administration's policy is interfering with deletions mandated by the Immigration and Nationality Act.
"Since the issuance of the February 18 Memorandum, ICE officers have been unable to take custody of, or issue detainer requests for, dangerous criminal aliens whose detention is mandated by the [Immigration and Nationality Act]," the lawsuit states. "Specifically, detention is required for aliens who have committed or been convicted of numerous crimes other than aggravated felonies, such as: crimes of moral turpitude, crimes involving controlled substances, human trafficking, money laundering, and certain firearm offenses," it continues.
As the number of people crossing into the United States through the southern border skyrocketed, deportations dropped to an all-time low as a result of this memo. "In April 2021, ICE carried out fewer than 3,000 arrests, the lowest number on record. ICE's approximately 6,000 officers were reported to be averaging one arrest every two months," according to figures reported by the Washington Post, which is cited in the lawsuit.
"This standdown in ICE enforcement has fueled a crisis at the border and in other Texas counties, encouraging a massive surge in illegal immigration. Monthly totals in apprehensions by Border Patrol agents are at levels not seen in over 21 years. In March 2021, Border Patrol agents apprehended 173,337 aliens after they illegally entered the United States. In April 2021, the number was 178,854. And in May 2021, the number was a staggering 180,034 aliens," the lawsuit continues.
In response to the Biden administration's limited response to the ongoing border crisis, Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced in June that the state would be finishing the border wall in Texas themselves, after the federal government redirected $2 billion that was set aside for the wall's construction to Department of Defense projects.
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