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Arizona AG Brnovich says he filed lawsuit after DHS ignored him

(Facebook Photo/Attorney General Mark Brnovich)

PHOENIX – Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said Thursday that federal authorities blew off concerns he raised about its deportation moratorium before he filed a lawsuit to stop it.

Brnovich told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Mike Broomhead Show that he didn’t want to sue but did so Wednesday only after the Department of Homeland Security refused to engage with him on the matter.

“We finally got a response back from them that was basically two paragraphs of saying five different ways of ‘Go pound sand,’” Brnovich said.

Arizona is the second state to sue over the policy to pause most deportations for 100 days, which was announced on President Joe Biden’s first day in office.

Brnovich’s complaint is similar to the suit brought by Texas on Jan. 22. Four days later, a federal judge in the Texas case issued a temporary restraining order on the deportation moratorium.

“We will file another motion coming later this week,” Brnovich said. “So hopefully this will be heard fairly quickly, but the Texas case is on a faster track because that … temporary restraining order has been issued, and there will be a hearing on that next week, and so that may give us some more guidance.”

Arizona’s suit argues that the moratorium violates federal law requiring certain types of deportations, and it improperly breaks a deal between DHS and the state that was reached late in the Trump administration.

The agreement, which requires 180-day notice for termination, says DHS won’t significantly alter immigration enforcement without giving Arizona a chance to consult and comment.

It was signed by Brnovich on Dec. 29 and then-Acting DHS Deputy Secretary Ken Cuccinelli on Jan. 8, 12 days before Biden was sworn in.

“Our concern is that … when this expires after 180 days, that they will continue, or they will implement this policy of releasing people that have either criminal charges or have criminal felony records,” Brnovich said.

Brnovich first raised his concerns to Acting Homeland Secretary David Pekoske in a Jan. 26 letter. The AG’s office followed up with an email Monday before getting a curt response Tuesday.

Brnovich filed the lawsuit the next day and included the three documents, as well as his agreement with DHS, as exhibits.

Pakoske’s response says the deal is “void, not binding and unenforceable” and asked that further correspondence on the matter be made to the Department of Justice.

“Basically, they told us to kiss off,” Brnovich said.

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