Arizona attorney general sues over Biden’s deportation moratorium

Feb 3, 2021, 2:09 PM | Updated: 2:40 pm
Mark Brnovich...
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)
(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

PHOENIX – Arizona’s Republican attorney general sued the U.S. Department of Homeland Security on Wednesday over the new Democratic administration’s 100-day deportation moratorium.

“It’s really a straightforward lawsuit,” Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich told KTAR News 92.3 FM. “We basically sued the Department of Homeland Security alleging that their new policy halting deportations is illegal and it’s also contrary to an MOU [memorandum of understanding] that we have with Homeland Security.”

Arizona is the second state to sue over the policy to pause most deportations, which was announced on President Joe Biden’s first day in office.

Brnovich’s complaint, which was filed in the U.S. District Court, District of Arizona, is similar to the suit Texas brought Jan. 22.

On Jan 26, a federal judge issued a temporary restraining order sought by Texas. The order has been extended until Feb. 23. U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton said the Biden administration had failed “to provide any concrete, reasonable justification for a 100-day pause on deportations.”

Arizona, like Texas, bases part of its argument on a deal between DHS and states that was reached late in the Trump administration. The agreement says DHS won’t alter immigration enforcement without giving states a chance to consult and comment.

The Biden administration argued in court filings that the agreement between the states and DHS is unenforceable because “an outgoing administration cannot contract away that power for an incoming administration.”

“Arizona, as a border state, will be directly impacted by Defendants’ decision to flout their legal obligations,” Brnovich’s complaint says.

“Arizona’s law enforcement community is particularly concerned that aliens who have been charged or convicted of crimes will be released as a result of DHS’s 100-day moratorium.”

Brnovich revealed his intentions to oppose the moratorium in a Jan. 26 letter to acting DHS Secretary David Pekoske.

Pekoske signed a memo on Jan. 20 directing immigration authorities to focus on national security and public safety threats as well as anyone apprehended entering the U.S. illegally after Nov. 1. That was a reversal from Trump administration policy that made anyone in the U.S. illegally a priority for deportation.

The 100-day moratorium went into effect Jan. 22 and applied to almost anyone who entered the U.S. without authorization before November.

Biden promised during his campaign to issue the moratorium. His plans for sweeping immigration overhaul also include a path to citizenship for the estimated 11 million people who are in the U.S. illegally.

Brnovich tweeted Wednesday that he supports “the need for comprehensive immigration reform, but it can’t be achieved through unsafe and untenable executive orders.”

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Martha Maurer and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Arizona attorney general sues over Biden’s deportation moratorium