Texas Immigration Deal With Trump Isn’t Legal, States Argue

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The Biden administration’s stalled effort to freeze deportations of undocumented immigrants for 100 days got a boost from more than a dozen Democratic-led states in a lawsuit Texas filed to block the plan.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott sued last month alleging a deal he struck in the last days of the Trump administration requires the federal government to consult him before making changes to immigration enforcement. The judge overseeing the case has already issued a temporary restraining order against the planned deportation pause.

Texas Immigration Deal With Trump Isn’t Legal, States Argue

But such an accord undermines the sovereignty of other states and illegally punishes immigrants nationwide, New York Attorney General Letitia James said in a statement Friday announcing an effort by 15 states and the District of Columbia she is leading against the suit. James battled the Trump administration over immigrants’ rights on several fronts, including a public-benefits test and the census.

“This eleventh-hour deal by the Trump administration and the state of Texas is nothing more than a last-ditch effort by the former president on his way out the door to hogtie every other state in the nation,” said James, who filed a “friend of the court” brief in federal court in Texas for the judge to consider. Among the other states on the brief are New Jersey, Virginia, Illinois and California.

Four-Year Crackdown

The deportation freeze is part of President Joe Biden’s effort to halt the Trump administration’s four-year crackdown on undocumented immigrants and work toward nationwide immigration reform.

Texas Immigration Deal With Trump Isn’t Legal, States Argue

The case is overseen by U.S. District Judge Drew Tipton in Victoria, Texas, an appointee of former president Donald Trump. Tipton is due to hear arguments on Feb. 19 over Texas’ request for a longer-lasting injunction that could block the plan during the entire litigation.

Texas argues it will face unique harm from the deportation pause because it will have to spend money on services for undocumented immigrants who aren’t removed from the country as planned. The Democratic states argue in their brief that undocumented immigrants contribute about $6.8 billion in state and local taxes each year. Many are also essential workers, crucial during the pandemic, they say.

The case is State of Texas v. U.S., 21-cv-00003, U.S. District Court, Southern District of Texas (Victoria).

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