The Trump administration appears to have deliberately struck a number of last-minute intergovernmental agreements to confuse Biden’s anticipated attempts at immigration reform.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a lawsuit against the Biden administration claiming the recently inaugurated president cannot stop the deportation of immigrants without first consulting the Lone Star State.
CNN reports that the lawsuit marks the first conservative attempt to interfere with President Joe Biden’s immigration policy.
In an effort to reverse some of former President Donald Trump’s more controversial immigration initiatives, Biden signed a series of executive orders designed to see enforcement within hours of taking office. He also directed senior and new members of his cabinet to issue supportive guidelines.
Government initiatives include a temporary 100-day hiatus in the deportation of immigrants announced by the incumbent head of the Department of Homeland Security, David Pekoske.
Freezing deportation, said Pekoske, will allow the department to concentrate its resources where they are most needed – along the southern border, “amid the worst public health crisis in a century”.
However, Paxton’s lawsuit alleges that Biden and his administration have no such authority.
In his complaint, Paxton cited a last-minute deal between Texas and the Trump administration that required the Department of Homeland Security to consult with Texas before major policy changes are made.
“On its first day in office, the Biden administration overturned congressional immigration laws and suspended the removal of illegal aliens whose removal is enforced by those laws,” Paxton wrote in his lawsuit filed in the US District Court for the South became Texas District.
A 2013 picture of Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. Image via Wikimedia Commons / User: Alice Linahan Voices Empower. (CCA-BY-2.0).
“In doing so,” he said, “it ignored basic constitutional principles and violated its written commitment to work with the state of Texas to address common concerns about immigration enforcement.”
According to CNN, the Trump administration appears to have deliberately proposed and approved a number of immigration-related revisions – overhauls specifically aimed at making any attempts by Biden to revise or reverse his predecessor’s legacy more difficult.
While the agreement between Texas and the Department of Homeland Security was signed by Ken Cuccinelli – whose authority over the agency was controversial at the time – it remains unclear whether it has any legal weight.
However, Paxton said the continued cooperation between the federal government and Texas is vital to the interests of both.
Paradoxically, Paxton accused that Pekoske’s orders to allocate more resources along the southern border were less of a defense of the border.
“Our state defends most of the nation’s southern border,” Paxton said. “If the law is not properly enforced, our citizens and law enforcement personnel will be directly and immediately at risk.”
The Austin-American Statesmen note that despite Paxton’s rhetoric, the Department of Homeland Security appears to have taken steps to ensure that particularly dangerous people can continue to be removed from the United States. For example, Pekoske’s memo does not protect non-nationals suspected of terrorism, espionage, or other such serious crimes. Nor does it prohibit immigration officials from continuing to make arrests.
Adam Kischner, a lawyer for the Biden administration, said during a virtual hearing that Texas is essentially trying to claim federal power for itself.
“What Texas is trying to do is overturn the discretion of Congress and [the Constitution] and give the state of Texas the authority to enforce immigration regulations, ”said Kischner.
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