Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen filed a lawsuit today to stop a dangerous Biden administration immigration policy that drastically ties the hands of immigration officers, halting nearly all deportations – even for those convicted of crimes and when federal immigration courts have already ordered their removal from the United States.
Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost and Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit that seeks to halt the implementation of U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Permanent Guidance that abandons its duties to enforce entire swaths of immigration law. The policy is set to take effect November 29.
“Law enforcement officers in Montana are doing what they can to combat crime resulting from drugs trafficked across the southern border, but we’re fighting an uphill battle until the Biden administration does its job and enforces immigration laws,” Attorney General Knudsen said. “The President’s attempt to release thousands of people into our communities with no consideration of their potential criminal history is a dangerous policy. His administration must uphold the laws that protect our communities.”
The DHS Permanent Guidance was issued after two previous related policies were called into question by litigation from multiple states, including Montana, and each of these predecessor policies was at least partially enjoined.
In addition to shielding the vast majority of aliens with final orders of removal from apprehension and deportation, the permanent guidance also represents an attempt by the Biden administration to abdicate other responsibilities under the law, such as the requirement for DHS to “take into custody” specified criminal aliens.
“As long as unauthorized aliens present in the United States prior to November 1, 2020, have not committed crimes related to terrorism and espionage, or do not pose egregious threats to public safety, they are not subject to deportation under this policy,” the lawsuit states. “And based on DHS data covering the periods before and after the issuance of similar but less far-reaching policies, on information and belief, a necessary consequence of DHS’s policy is that individuals will be released into Plaintiff States’ communities.”
There is no evidence that the Biden administration considered the serious risk of recidivism among criminal illegal aliens who are released, rendering the agency action “arbitrary and capricious.” Additionally, the nonenforcement policy does not take into account the costs to states, which will have to spend taxpayer dollars on increased costs for law enforcement and social services.
Under the nonenforcement policy, DHS will no longer transfer most deportable migrants from local prisons to ICE custody when they are set to be released from jail, even though it is required by federal law. Instead, migrants will be released into states at the cost of taxpayers through community supervision. When DHS implemented a similar policy earlier this year, the number of immigration arrests and deportations were slashed and deportable criminal aliens were released from jails.
Biden’s nonenforcement policy will further incentivize illegal immigration and worsen the ongoing border crisis, including the flow of methamphetamine and fentanyl across the border. The number of postmortem cases with identified methamphetamine in the blood more than doubled in 2020 (88 in 2019 and 191 in 2020), according to Montana State Crime Lab data. The state also saw an alarming number of fentanyl-related fatalities earlier this year.
More than 1.7 million migrants were detained along the southwest border in fiscal year 2021, the highest total ever recorded. That trend is continuing. Just last month, U.S. Border Patrol encountered more than 164,000 migrants at the southwest border, the worst October on record.
The coalition is asking the U.S. District Court of Ohio to declare the nonenforcement policy illegal and to stop it from going into effect.
Click here to read the full complaint.
This week, the Western State Sheriffs’ Association issued a declaration of “no confidence” in Biden’s DHS Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas saying, “America’s sheriffs have watched in disbelief as the southern border has turned into an invisible line in the sand.”
PRESS RELEASE PROVIDED BY MONTANA DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE