Multi-American | How immigrants are redefining 'American' in Southern California

Anti-deferred action lawsuit brought by ICE agents and activists

A lawsuit filed today against top Homeland Security officials by immigration agents opposed to deferred action, which promises to grant temporary legal status to some young undocumented immigrants, has the support of high-profile immigration restriction advocates.

SB 1070 legal author and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach is representing a handful of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents led by Chris Crane, president of the ICE agents' union, in a lawsuit alleging that the new Obama administration policy directs ICE agents to violate federal immigration laws or face consequences on the job. Legal costs are being paid by NumbersUSA, an immigration restriction advocacy group in Arlington, Virginia.

It's not the first time the ICE union has complained about recent Obama administration immigration policies that aren't tied to enforcement, but rather offer leniency to some otherwise deportable immigrants. Earlier this year, the agents' union protested the administration's implementation of prosecutorial discretion guidelines aimed at weeding out non-criminal immigrants who might be spared from deportation.

The NumbersUSA website, which calls deferred action a "comprehensive amnesty threat," has posted the complaint filed today. From the lawsuit:

4. The Directive commands ICE officers to violate federal law, as detailed below, commands ICE officers to violate their oaths to uphold and support federal law, violates the Administrative Procedure Act, unconstitutionally usurps and encroaches upon the legislative powers of Congress, as defined in Article I of the United States Constitution, and violates the obligation of the executive branch to faithfully execute the law, as required by Article II, Section 3, of the United States Constitution.

5. Plaintiffs bring this civil action to seek injunctive relief preventing the implementation of this unlawful and unconstitutional Directive.

6. This lawsuit seeks to prevent law enforcement officer Plaintiffs from being forced to either violate federal law if they comply with the unlawful Directive or risk adverse employment action if they disobey the unlawful orders of the DHS Secretary.  This lawsuit also seeks to preserve the balance of legislative and executive powers established by the United States Constitution.

The deferred action policy, for which the application period kicked off last week, would allow young undocumented immigrants who meet certain criteria to apply for temporary legal status and work permits. Applicants must have been no older than 16 when they arrived in the United States, no older than 30 as of last June 15, have a record free of any serious criminal offense and have lived in the U.S. for five consecutive years, among other things.

Read the entire complaint here.