Texas AG Ken Paxton Tells DHS to Rescind Deportation Freeze, Threatens Lawsuit

January 22, 2021 Updated: January 22, 2021

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Thursday threatened to sue the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) over its recent announcement that the Biden administration will be pausing deportations for some illegal immigrants for 100 days beginning Jan. 22.

The DHS on Wednesday said that the agency will “pause removals for certain noncitizens ordered deported to ensure we have a fair and effective immigration enforcement system focused on protecting national security, border security, and public safety.”

Paxton, a Republican, sent a letter to DHS Acting Secretary David Pekoske calling the DHS’s decision “illegal.”

“When the @JoeBiden admin breaks the law, I take action. I have told @DHSgov to immediately rescind its illegal, unconscionable deportation freeze—or TX will sue. As AG, I will always put Americans, Texans first—not dangerous aliens who must be deported!” Paxton said in a Twitter statement.

“This complete abdication of the Department of Homeland Security’s (‘DHS’) obligation to enforce federal immigration law is unlawful and will seriously and irreparably harm the State of Texas and its citizens,” Paxton wrote in his letter.

“Border states like Texas pay a particularly high price when the federal government fails to faithfully execute our country’s immigration laws,” he added. “Your attempted halt on almost all deportations would increase the cost to Texas caused by illegal immigration.”

He noted that the DHS itself has previously acknowledged that such a “pause on . . . removals” will cause “concrete injuries to Texas,” citing an agreement between the agency and the state of Texas.

In making the announcement, Pekokse said the deportation freeze would allow the DHS to “ensure that its resources are dedicated to responding to the most pressing challenges that the United States faces.”

This includes “immediate operational challenges at the southwest border in the midst of the most serious global public health crisis in a century,” Pekokse said. “Throughout this interim period DHS will continue to enforce our immigration laws.”

Pekokse provided the exceptions to the rule, which include individuals who are found by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to have engaged in or are suspected of terrorism or espionage or pose a danger to U.S. national security, or for whom the ICE acting director determines removal is required.

Other exceptions include individuals who were not physically in the United States prior to Nov. 1, 2020, and those who have “voluntarily agreed to waive any rights to remain in the United States.”

The directive applies to ICE, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).

Paxon in his letter noted that the DHS failed to consult with Texas before making its policy changes, as is required per an agreement between the state and the agency.

“Second, DHS agreed ‘to prioritize the protection of the United States and its existing communities,’ including by ‘promot[ing] the return or removal from[] the United States of inadmissible and removable aliens,’…Needless to say, a broad ‘pause’ on the removal of illegal aliens does not ‘promote . . . removal,’” he said.

“This letter serves as notice that Texas believes DHS has violated the Agreement,” he added. “Texas would like to resolve this dispute, but you must immediately rescind the January 20 Memorandum.”

The DHS didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by The Epoch Times.

Mimi Nguyen Ly contributed to this report.