PHOENIX, AZ – The Arizona Attorney General Office is asking the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant an emergency injunction pending appeal, requiring federal agencies to return to “normal removal operations” and follow existing federal immigration law and resume deportations.
Arizona and Montana are suing the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and federal officials over the February 18, 2021 Interim Guidance that halts nearly all deportations and ICE arrests. After the Interim Guidance was issued, deportations outside of the “priority categories” dropped by 98 percent in Arizona (only 7 out of 325 “other priority” cases were deported). Additionally, immigration-related arrests have dramatically decreased. ICE officers average just one interior arrest every 2.5 months.
The Arizona Attorney General Office claims that the Interim Guidance is in direct violation of federal law for removals of aliens with final orders of removal. 8 U.S.C. § 1231(a)(1)(A), requires that ICE “shall” remove an alien, who has received a final deportation order, from the United States within 90 days unless another exception in § 1231 applies. Late last month, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled in a separate case (Johnson v. Guzman Chavez) that “shall” means “must,” i.e. it is mandatory language.
Monday’s filing comes as June numbers show the border crisis is only getting worse. More than 188,000 individuals were encountered along the southwest border in June 2021. DHS has not publicly released removal numbers for several weeks.