Attorney General Ford Joins Fight to Pause Deportations Pending Review of Policies by Biden-Harris Administration

February 12, 2021

Coalition of 16 AGs File Amicus Brief SupportingBiden-Harris Administration Plan to Pause Deportations

Carson City, NV – Today, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford joined a coalition of 16 attorneys general fighting alongside President Joseph Biden to pause deportations pending the Administration’s review of policies. On the first day of the Biden-Harris Administration, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a memo ordering a moratorium on deportations for 100 days while a thorough review of the DHS’s polices took place. Two days later, the state of Texas sued the administration, seeking to overturn the moratorium. Texas is now seeking a preliminary injunction to halt the moratorium while the case makes its way through the courts.

In an amicus brief filed in Texas v. United States, AG Ford and the coalition asks the district court to reject Texas’s request for a preliminary injunction and deny the state’s efforts to dictate federal immigration policy through a last-minute “agreement” with the Trump Administration.

“An outgoing presidential administration — after losing a national election by millions of votes — cannot handcuff the decisions of a new administration when they’re trying to change national policies to reflect the will of the voters,” said AG Ford. “My office’s job is justice, and justice in this instances requires a review of deportation policies that may have had unintended and onerous effects and often deny humanity.” 

As part of a series of sweeping immigration reforms, the Biden-Harris Administration halted the deportation of undocumented immigrants for 100 days on January 20, 2021. However, days before President Biden took office, the state of Texas entered into an agreement with the Trump Administration that sought to hamstring the incoming Biden-Harris Administration before it had the opportunity to put in place its own policies and priorities concerning removal.

In the amicus brief, the coalition argues that Texas’ agreement with the previous administration is not only unlawful, but that it also presents serious issues related to federal immigration enforcement in Nevada and the other states within the coalition, which are home to a significant share of the estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S. Texas’ request for nationwide enforcement of an agreement that it alone signed with the DHS not only conflicts with federal law but also undermines the sovereignty of its fellow states.

Further, the coalition highlights the overwhelming contributions undocumented immigrants bring to the nation. Specifically, undocumented immigrants contribute approximately $6.8 billion in state and local taxes annually. And immigrants — both with and without documentation — are also critically needed employees in essential sectors, including those sectors vital to combatting the COVID-19 public health crisis by delivering goods and food, providing technological and human-resources support for telecommuting, offering telehealth and other in-person health care, assisting at grocery stories, and more.

Finally, the agreement was not validly executed by the DHS, as it was signed on behalf of the federal government only by Kenneth Cuccinelli II, who, at the time, was unlawfully acting as a senior official performing the duties of the deputy secretary. Several courts, as well as the Government Accountability Office, have already found that Cuccinelli was not lawfully appointed because he assumed his role in violation of two federal acts related to the succession of power: The Federal Vacancies Reform Act and the Homeland Security Act. Thus, Cuccinelli’s execution of the agreement with Texas here is in excess of statutory authority and without force or effect.

While Texas now seeks a preliminary injunction, it was previously successful in garnering a two-week temporary restraining order, which was extended until February 23, 2021 to allow for further briefing.

In addition to Nevada, other states joining the filling include: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and the District of Columbia.

The filed brief is attached.