- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich late Monday opened a new front against the Biden administration’s immigration policies, expanding an existing lawsuit to include Homeland Security’s new non-deportation rules.

Mr. Brnovich had previously sued over President Biden’s 100-day deportation pause, announced on Inauguration Day. He has now amended the lawsuit to also challenge “interim guidance,” issued Feb. 18, that put new strict limits on who can be targeted for arrest by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

He said the deportation restrictions were possibly “the poorest policy choice I’ve ever seen in government.”

“Blindly releasing thousands of people, including convicted criminals and those who may be spreading COVID-19 into our state, is both unconscionable and a violation of federal law,” he said. “This must be stopped now to avoid a dangerous humanitarian crisis for the immigrants and the people of Arizona.”

The Biden administration has moved quickly to dismantle the deportation machinery that’s built up over the last two decades, but it’s run into legal challenges and hurdles.

A federal judge in Texas has put the 100-day deportation pause on hold, finding the administration cut too many corners and didn’t provide a valid justification for the action.

ICE has tried to reach the same goal with its new deportation guidance, which lays out the priorities for whom officers and agents should target.

National security risks, people who jumped the border in recent months, and those with very serious criminal charges are still acceptable targets, but if officers want to go after anyone else they must submit a written proposal and get approval. In practice, officers say, that will be almost impossible to do given the time constraints on trying to arrest someone out in the community.

The Biden team says the new guidance will focus resources on the highest risks.

ICE officers, though, say they have the capacity to do that and also go after other migrants with criminal records such as drunken driving and assault, which do not qualify as automatic deportation priorities under the new Biden deportation rules.

Arizona’s lawsuit is being joined by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen.

• Stephen Dinan can be reached at sdinan@washingtontimes.com.

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