Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed a lawsuit Tuesday to try to force Homeland Security to take custody of criminal aliens that local police arrest, saying the new administration is violating the law by refusing to come pick them up.
Mr. Paxton said ICE regularly issues requests to take custody of migrants in Texas custody, signifying the federal government has an interest in deporting them. But since the start of the Biden administration ICE has canceled “dozens” of those requests.
Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry, who is also part of the lawsuit, said ICE is refusing to oust people who under the law are “mandatory deportation” cases, forcing them to be released into the state — effectively creating a sanctuary policy for some migrants.
“Federal law requires defendants to take custody of many criminal aliens, including those with final orders of removal, those convicted of drug offenses, and those convicted of crimes of moral turpitude. By refusing to take these criminal aliens into custody, defendants have disregarded non-discretionary legal duties,” the states said.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court in southern Texas, is the latest legal challenge to be mounted by Republican state officials against the Biden immigration policy.
Mr. Paxton, in another lawsuit, has won a temporary injunction halting President Biden’s 100-day deportation pause.
But experts say even without the pause, Mr. Biden is making good on his promise of more leniency toward illegal immigrants by slashing deportation numbers.
ICE immigration book-ins dropped by 62% in February, the first full month under Mr. Biden, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University.
In the lawsuit, Texas and Louisiana ask a judge to order that Homeland Security take custody of “criminal aliens as required by statute.”
The law also lays out certain cases that are mandatory for detention while their immigration claims play out in courts. The only exception, the states said, is when someone is acting as a witness or otherwise helping authorities in a major criminal case.
The lawsuits brought by Republican states are similar to dozens of lawsuits brought by Democrat-led states during the previous four years, blocking many of President Trump’s get-tough immigration policies. Now it’s Republican states using the courts against Mr. Biden.
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