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Federal District Court Judge Reed O'Conner has ruled that 10 ICE agents and officers have standing to challenge in Federal court the so-called Morton Memo on prosecutorial discretion and the DREAM directive on deferred action. The agents filed their complaint in October, charging that unconstitutional and illegal directives from DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano and ICE Director John Morton order the agents to violate federal laws or face adverse employment actions. This is a major first step for the ICE agents in their case against the administration.
In his 35-page decision, Judge O'Conner found that the ICE agents and officers have standing, but that the State of Mississippi does not. He has not yet ruled, however, on the agents' motion for a preliminary injunction to halt implementation of the DHS directives.
The primary impetus for the lawsuit came last June, when Secretary Napolitano issued a memo offering deferred action and employment authorization to illegal aliens under age 31 who meet certain criteria similar to those outlined in the DREAM Act, which has failed to pass Congress on three occasions.
Even before that, though, ICE Director Morton essentially gutted immigration enforcement by issuing a memo on prosecutorial discretion that, in effect, prohibits ICE agents and officers from arresting or removing any but the most violent criminal aliens. Under Morton's stated policy, most of the 12 million or so illegal aliens that the administration wants to legalize are currently safe from deportation.
This is just one of the reasons that the National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council voted unanimously that they have no confidence in Morton's ability to lead the agency. Aside from ordering ICE agents to not enforce federal immigration laws, Morton has also gutted worksite enforcement and the 287(g) program, which is a cooperative effort between local law enforcement and federal immigration agents.
ANNE MANETAS is the Deputy Director of NumbersUSA