" States unite to block immigration policy – Chicago Tribune – Ordimeds

States unite to block immigration policy – Chicago Tribune

On the morning of April 28, Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed his 11th immigration-related lawsuit against the Biden administration, presenting his papers before a U.S. District Court judge in the town of Amarillo, in the Panhandle, then issuing a press release about it.

On the same day, a coalition of 14 other red states filed a similar suit in federal district court in Arizona.

The coordinated effort aims to block a new policy that allows U.S. asylum officials — rather than immigration judges — to adjudicate newly arrived immigrants’ claims. It’s also part of a trend that has taken hold among GOP attorneys general over the past year who have borrowed from their Blue State counterparts.

During President Donald Trump’s tenure, Democratic attorneys general sued repeatedly to stop him from relaxing environmental regulations or allowing new fossil fuel exploration, but they also filed more than a dozen lawsuits. related to immigration policy.

Since President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January 2021, red states have pursued mask mandates, COVID-19 vaccination rules for large employers, and the social cost of greenhouse gas emissions, but they seem particularly interested in thwarting migration across the US-Mexico border. . Republican attorneys general have filed more than a dozen lawsuits in multiple states over the past year to block Biden’s immigration policies they dislike.

The tactic of multistate coalitions to block federal policies or actions has become a powerful tool in the arsenal of state attorneys general, according to Paul Nolette, chair of the political science department at Marquette University. Nolette has been tracking multistate litigation for state attorneys general since 2007 and is the creator of AttorneysGeneral.org, a website dedicated to data.

According to him, states that want to block Biden’s immigration policy need only go to a supportive, preferably conservative, district judge appointed by a Republican president, present their case and seek a preliminary injunction. If a judge grants the injunction, the policy stops, Nolette said.

“That’s the game they’re playing, and getting a preliminary injunction is key,” Nolette said. “Especially as district courts are increasingly willing to have nationwide injunctions, it’s a good way to get your money’s worth.”

Since Biden took office, Republican-led states have filed some 27 lawsuits or appeals seeking to block the administration’s immigration actions, according to Stateline research. At least 15 were multistate efforts by Republican attorneys general.

The administration’s proposed rule for the Asylum Office, which goes into effect May 31, aims to reduce the average time asylum seekers wait to receive a decision on their case from years to months, according to National Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. As of March, immigration judges had nearly 1.7 million cases pending, the longest backlog in the nation’s history, according to Syracuse University’s Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse (TRAC).

“The last thing Texas needs is for this administration to make it easier for illegal aliens to enter the United States and gain asylum through misrepresentation and less oversight,” Paxton wrote in a press release shortly after the complaint was filed. “It is true that our immigration system is extremely supported, but the answer is to secure the border, not to overload it further by adopting cheap and easy incentives for illegal aliens to enter the United States.

According to Nolette’s research, the first multi-state immigration lawsuit was filed in 2014 by 23 red states led by Texas. States successfully blocked an Obama administration directive called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents. DAPA, as the policy was known, allowed non-citizens with U.S. citizen children of any age to apply for legal residency.

Attorneys general from 17 blue states, including California and New York, came together to make the case for DAPA. His efforts were futile against the new Trump administration, which rescinded the policy in 2017.

Multistate litigation aimed at blocking immigration policy has grown from just one case during the Obama years to 18 under the Trump administration. The most prominent case was brought by Hawaii and backed by 18 Blue States, which oppose the administration’s travel ban on residents of Muslim-majority countries. Attorneys general in 17 red states backed the ban, which was ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court.

“By now it has become institutionalized and a multi-state coalition of attorneys general is almost expected to oppose any new policy announcements coming out of Washington,” Nolette said.

The beginning of multistate litigation dates back to the early 1980s, when state attorneys general led the first coordinated efforts against the environmental and antitrust policies of the Reagan administration. Nearly half of all multistate lawsuits against the federal government that Nolette pursues have been filed against the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Between 1980 and 2016, multistate lawsuits averaged about seven per year, but hit an all-time high of 40 in 2017. Trump filed 157 multistate lawsuits against his administration in four years.

By comparison, under the George W. Bush and Obama administrations, a total of 76 and 78 multistate lawsuits were filed against them, respectively, during the eight years each was in office.

“It was basically twice as many requests in half the time,” Nolette said. “We had Democratic prosecutors virtually every week filing lawsuits against the administration on a whole host of issues.”

Many cases brought under the Trump administration are still pending, but of the 74 that had been heard in U.S. district courts as of October, 57 had been before a judge appointed by a Democratic president, according to Attorneysgeneral.org.

Democratic attorneys general have often brought cases against Trump-era policies in the San Francisco-based United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, where liberal-leaning judges were more receptive to their arguments. As of November 2020, the 9th Circuit had 16 of the 29 justices appointed by a Democratic president, the most of any appeals court nationwide.

Now the battleground has shifted to Texas, where a judicial assignment system in some U.S. district courts allows plaintiffs to essentially choose their judges, and where a federal circuit court has been pushed further to the right with Trump’s nominations, according to Cris Ramon, a Chicago-based immigration consultant.

Paxton, the Texas attorney general, had filed 27 lawsuits against the Biden administration last month, continuing the tradition established by his predecessor, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott, who joked, “I go to office, I sue the feds. and I’m going home” (in 2013, when he was Attorney General during the Obama era).

Ramón said the country’s immigration problems will not be solved in court and that Congress should be the place where opposing parties negotiate a permanent solution.

“The people we elect to pass laws and make changes don’t do it with immigration,” Ramón said. “We allow the judges to do that, and I don’t think the judges are necessarily happy to do that.”

According to Stateline research, about a quarter of the 106 state and multi-state lawsuits filed against the Biden administration were immigration-related. According to Jessica Bolter, an associate policy analyst at the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), a research organization, only four of the immigration lawsuits have been successful.

Among GOP victories, Texas successfully challenged a 100-day eviction moratorium issued on the day of Biden’s inauguration; that Texas and Missouri blocked the so-called permanency policy in Mexico, which was reviewed in late April by the US Supreme Court; that Texas and Louisiana have partially blocked new guidelines that prioritize who should be located and deported; and that Arizona has also partially blocked similar priorities.

Bolter said it’s no coincidence that this new phenomenon of states coming together to challenge federal action on immigration comes at a time when Congress is extremely deadlocked on the issue.

He said the lack of action by Congress has caused the executive branch to step in and try to make changes where they can. But the executive branch’s action reflects the views on immigration of either party in the White House, while a congressional solution could come from a bipartisan compromise.

“This has led to more prosecutions and more involvement of the courts in immigration policy, which has ultimately led to a truly confusing immigration policy landscape that can change from moment to moment,” Bolter said.

Besides the legal precedent that successful partisan prosecutions sometimes create, he said, a more lasting effect has been a decline in trust in government and the immigration system.

“It makes it harder to understand what’s going on, not just for immigrants but also for the American public,” he said. “And, in a way, that leads to this feeling that the government is unable to successfully manage or control immigration.”

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