Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has long complained about police in sanctuary cities that fail to honor its detainers, instead releasing serious criminals in the U.S. rather than turn them over to get deported. Now two states are suing the Homeland Security agency for failing to issue detainer requests for convicted felons in the country illegally, forcing local authorities to free them after completing their sentence rather than turning them over to the feds for removal. It seems that the tables have turned under the Biden administration, according to the lawsuit, filed this month by officials in Texas and Louisiana.
The states claim that ICE has reversed a Trump era policy and is not issuing detainer requests for dangerous illegal aliens imprisoned in their jurisdiction. “As a result, many convicted criminal aliens have been released to society after their sentences, contrary to Congress’s mandate that they be detained pending their removal from the United States,” according to their complaint, filed this month in the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas Victoria Division. Besides ICE, the defendants include the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and its secretary, Alejandro Mayorkas, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and various officials at the DHS agencies. The lawsuit begins by stating that “the Biden Administration is refusing to take custody of criminal aliens despite federal statutes requiring it to do so.” Instead, the document reads, defendants “have issued and implemented unlawful agency memoranda that allow criminal aliens already convicted of felony offenses to roam free in the United States. Such aliens belong in federal custody, as Congress required.”
Adding insult to injury, officials in the Lone Star State reveal in the court document that the Biden administration has taken the extra step of revoking ICE detainer requests for a multitude of illegal immigrants convicted of felonies and serving sentences in prisons operated by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Many were found guilty in a U.S. court of serious drug offenses, including possession, manufacturing, and sale. “President Biden’s outright refusal to enforce the law is exacerbating an unprecedented border crisis,” said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton in a statement announcing the lawsuit. “By failing to take custody of criminal aliens and giving no explanation for this reckless policy change, the Biden Administration is demonstrating a blatant disregard for Texans’ and Americans’ safety. Law and order must be immediately upheld and enforced to ensure the safety of our communities. Dangerous and violent illegal aliens must be removed from our communities as required by federal law.” In 2019 Texas housed nearly 9,000 undocumented criminal aliens at a cost of more than $152 million, according to the lawsuit.
In Louisiana ICE is not removing individuals subject to mandatory deportation, the complaint says, causing convicted felons incarcerated in state facilities to be released in local communities throughout the Bayou State. Louisiana, more than any other state, has greater risk due to the large number of local jails that are used to house detainees prior to removal, according to Attorney General Jeff Landry. “The President’s refusal to enforce the law only worsens an already dire border crisis,” Landry said. “Law and order must prevail; dangerous and violent criminal aliens must not be allowed to roam free in our communities.” Both states assert that the administration is violating binding agreements with DHS to assist in immigration enforcement and national security missions as well the Constitution, Immigration and Nationality Act and Administrative Procedure Act, which require the government to post proposed substantive rule changes in the Federal Register and allow the public to comment on them before enacting them.
For years ICE has slammed sanctuary cities nationwide for refusing to honor a local-federal partnership known as 287(g) that notifies the agency of jail inmates in the country illegally so that they can be deported after serving time for state crimes. Before Biden became president, ICE repeatedly issued statements reminding sanctuary cities and states that when law enforcement agencies fail to honor immigration detainers and release serious criminal offenders onto the streets, it undermines its ability protect public safety and carry out its mission. The agency even launched a billboard campaign seeking the public’s help in capturing felons released by one state’s sanctuary policy.