The plaintiffs are seeking an injunction to a Feb. 18 memorandum that they say “commands ICE officers to violate the specific terms of federal immigration law.”
“The relief we are seeking is that the court order ICE and the Department of Homeland Security to simply follow the law,” lead attorney Kris Kobach said after filing the suit at the Galveston federal courthouse on July 1. “To follow the specific laws … that require them to detain and deport certain illegal aliens.”
The lawsuit (pdf) alleges that “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 Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued interim guidelines on Feb. 18 for handling the arrest, detainment, and deportation of illegal immigrants.
DHS directed ICE officers to focus on only three priority groups of illegal immigrants, including national security threats, such as known or suspected terrorists; those who crossed the border illegally after Nov. 1, 2020; and public safety threats who are convicted of aggravated felonies or gang members.
Part of ICE’s job is to track down and remove the 672,000 fugitives who have been ordered removed by a federal immigration judge but are still in the United States.
But the new DHS directive says that ICE agents must first get clearance from supervisors if they encounter illegal immigrants who aren’t convicted criminals during operations.
The decision of whether to arrest the individual needs to take into account whether the person might be suffering from a serious physical or mental illness, a DHS official said at the time.
“We want [ICE] to think about ties to the community, whether the individual has family here in the United States, U.S. citizen family members, and other considerations,” the official said.