Florida’s attorney general on Tuesday filed a lawsuit to halt Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) guidance that narrows the illegal immigrants prioritized for arrest and deportation.
“You know I’ve been speaking for weeks now and alerting Americans to the fact that this administration is thumbing its nose to its responsibilities under federal law. It is required to deport criminal aliens that are here illegally and it is just saying we’re not going to do it anymore,” Attorney General Ashley Moody said on “Fox & Friends.”
The complaint and motion for a preliminary injunction targets recent ICE guidance that would restrict officers to focus on three narrow categories for arrest and deportation: those who pose a threat to national security, those who have crossed the border since Nov. 1, and those who committed “aggravated felonies.”
Administration officials said the guidance does not explicitly prevent anyone from being arrested or deported. Instead, it directs resources at certain targets. However, field officers seeking to arrest someone outside of those three categories would need approval from their chain of command. It is expected to lead to a significant decrease in arrests and deportations.
“By focusing our limited resources on cases that present threats to national security, border security, and public safety, our agency will more ably and effectively execute its law enforcement mission,” ICE Acting Director Tae Johnson said in a statement.
The suit alleges that there are multiple instances of ICE refusing to take custody of criminals — including those who served time for burglary and drug trafficking — when they were released from state custody.
“This abdication of duty is resulting and will continue to result in the release of dangerous drug traffickers, violent offenders, and other serious criminals into Florida and the nation’s communities to wreak havoc and victimize anew,” the request for an injunction says. “Florida seeks to preliminarily enjoin this patent violation of law, protect Floridians and those within its borders, and prevent the irreparable harm that this irresponsible action is causing and will cause.”
The lawsuit comes as Arizona and Montana filed a similar suit seeking to block the interim guidance from ICE.
Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich announced Tuesday he has amended a lawsuit that had initially challenged the administration’s attempt to impose a 100-day moratorium on deportations. Montana also signed on to that complaint on Tuesday.
The 100-day pause was blocked by a judge in response to a lawsuit by Texas after the state argued the policy was in breach of an agreement made in the final days of the Trump administration with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) that border states would be consulted before significant changes to border policy.