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Anti-Immigrant Conservatives File Suit Against Administration’s Policy of Deferred Action for DREAM-Eligible Immigrants

Fresh off reshaping the immigration plank of the GOP platform in the most extreme manner possible, Kris Kobach, the Kansas Secretary of State, has sued Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano over the Obama Administration’s new deferred action for childhood arrivals (DACA) policy, which enables eligible undocumented immigration to apply for a two-year reprieve from deportation and a work permit.

Kobach filed the lawsuit along with ten Immigration and Customs Enforcement Officials who say the policy forces them into unconstitutional activity:

The suit was filed in the District Court for the Northern District of Texas and challenges a new policy announced by Napolitano earlier this year by arguing that it forces officers to break the law.

“We are federal law enforcement officers who are being ordered to break the law,” said Crane in a statement. “This directive puts ICE agents and officers in a horrible position.” […]

“The Obama administration makes it impossible for ICE agents to do their jobs,” said House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) in a statement issued along with fellow Texas Republicans Reps. John Carter and Louie Gohmert.

“Instead of enforcing the law, the Obama administration requires ICE agents to release illegal immigrants,” Smith said.

Politically, it seems like a terrible idea to let Kris Kobach be the conservative face of immigration policy. He already took the lead in rewriting the Republican platform to endorse “self-deportation” and laws like Arizona’s SB1070, most of which was struck down by the Supreme Court (Kobach wrote the law, so of course he has a soft spot for it). There’s just no way to connect with the fastest-growing segment of the electorate, the Latino community, when the official party position is so belligerent and hurtful.

On the policy here, I think it’s well-established that federal officials have wide prosecutorial discretion in the case of immigration. These ICE officials may not like it, but their duty is to follow the directives of their superior officers. And if DREAM-eligible immigrants can be granted deferred action status, they have to honor that in the field.

This will probably not be the only lawsuit filed against the new DACA policy. Rep. Steve King (R-IA) plans to file suit in the coming weeks.

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David Dayen

David Dayen

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